February '99 Mud of the Month

My name is Lennart Bang (aka Lorgalis of BurningMUD) and I first came in contact with muds in 1992 when I heard a guy sitting next to me in the computer lab at the University saying to his friend ‘help me kill the dragon!’. Being a Tolkien and roleplaying fan, this immediately caught my attention. A few minutes later I took my first shaky steps towards the wonderful world of muds…

Though I had much fun playing the initial AberMuds, mudding did not really click for me until I found one of the first DIKUs, AlexMud, that also happened to be located at my university (Royal Institute of Stockholm, Sweden). The possibilities of multiple people cooperating and interacting to kill textual monsters had an enormous appeal and I was soon spending way too many hours in the computer lab killing orcs, trolls, dragons and even an occasional innocent shopkeeper. After having played so much that I quickly became an immortal at AlexMud (Lorgalis), I found another mud that caught my interest – BurningMud. The mud was fun, friendly and seemed alive and I quickly brought my friends to play there. After a short while I was so hooked that I even introduced my girlfriend to mudding in order to get more time for it. Luckily for me, she liked it and soon we were both enjoying Burning (this was back in 1993 I think).

Burning started up like many other muds as an offspring from the freeware DIKU mud project in denmark. The fun part about Burning was that it had more levels, a larger world and much more interaction and communication than other muds I played. Once again I played so much that I became an immortal with Lorgalis, but I quickly rolled up a few more characters in order to keep the fun going. Back then in the states, the mud was run by Bytor, Porlan and Alxar and though they were ambitious and good, I felt I could help them out.

Having started coding at the age of 12 with my commodore64 and also after a few pascal/Simula courses at the university I offered my services to make Burning even better. In order to learn mud coding, I downloaded a commonly used mud codebase (circle 2.x) and started learning C. Since I had never coded muds or knew C the results were horrible ๐Ÿ™ I managed to convert circle from a stable AD&D diku to a very shaky rolemaster mud, ‘Kulthea’. I also sent a few code snippets to BurningMud that though finally good, somehow never got implemented. Things were looking good. I got better and better at coding in C and Burning was still a rocking place to mud. Then the world collapsed when one day instead of getting the familiar Burning frontpage I got a notice saying something like ‘Burning has closed and will reopen after finding a new site and heavy modifications’. Isn’t that every mudders’ worst nightmare! This usually means the end of it…

I kept checking if Burning would be up again every day while coding on my own mud (kulthea) with my RL friend Andraax. Though kulthea made some progress it turned out to be way too much work for the two of us and it looked like we would never be able to open it. When the word got around that Burning would not open again (it had now been closed about a year) and I was tired of waiting, I contacted Alxar. Alxar, having been one of the original crew, managed to get hold of the original Burning code and gave it to me. Alxar, Andraax, and myself decided to reopen BurningMud! After some frantic coding (we added lots of code from both kulthea and circle) the mud finally came close to the grand reopening.

Then, on the 1st of January 1996 I rolled up Lorgalis and Burning was once again alive. Now back, and stronger than ever!

The Admins, past and present:

Head Coder - Lennart Bang (Lorgalis)
SysAdmin/Coder - Bjorn Svartengren (Andraax) (now retired)
Balance Control - Peter Astrand (Crom) (now retired)
Coder - Jason Shroyer (Alxar) (now retired)
Coder - Ulf Bourelius (Dharynn) (now retired)
Head Builder - Scott Verbeke (Torain)
Coder - Nick Chadwick (Stile)
Balance Control - David Glauert (Raygar)
Coder - Chris Maniar (Rafo)

1. Describe the backgrounds of the Burning administrators. What MUDs did the admins originally start out on?

Lorgalis: (see history)

Andraax: Back long ago in 1992, I was a member of a role playing team, and we were all interested in the world of fantasy. One of my team mates found a strange thing called a MUD. It turned out to be a game named AberMUD, a MUD of the LP branch. Eventually, I tired of this MUD, and moved onto a Diku mud – AlphaMUD. From there I played on many other different muds, such as Alex, Copper, Imperial, Grimne, Burning, and MUME. I was fascinated by all these and started talking about coding our own MUD. We started hacking on a Diku, and had a working prototype after quite a long time. However, we noticed it was totally unbalanced, and gave up on the project. About this time we got in contact with the implementors of the old BurningMUD. They gave us the code to Burning, and we started it up on a machine in the university, eventually moving it to a machine in the computer club.

Torain: I started out on a little-known “child” of the original Burning called N.A.R.M. (Not A Real Mud). ByTor and Porlan of the original Burning had set it up as a test port on the same machine that the original Burning had been on. They toyed with the idea of re-coding Burning from scratch using a new codebase, but after a couple months they gave up and turned the fresh-out-of-the-box NARM over to Quest, Sorbra, and Tapo. By this time, I was a mid-level god, and I began working on area design with Sorbra. NARM became Unknown MUD, which grew and prospered for about a year, but eventually failed because of site problems. I had worked my way up to becoming an implementor, along the way learning a lot about area coding for various codebases, and I had amassed a large collection of areas in various formats. It was at Unknown that I met Lorgalis and Alxar, and through Lorgalis I met Andraax and Dharynn, which led to my position here on the new Burning.

Stile I first came across Burning at university about two and a half years ago. I was sitting in the computer lab, chatting on IRC, and I noticed a guy in the lab who was ALWAYS in there, day and night. I quickly recognised what he was doing, and asked him how I could connect to the MUD. I used to run a self-written MUD on a LAN of BBC computers back in school, so I was eager to investigate a _real_ MUD. Within 10 minutes, I was hooked. Slowly I climbed the levels, receiving help from several friendly players, until I was sitting on top of the player ladder. I decided that it was time to give something back to Burning, so myself and a friend set about designing an area. Within a couple of weeks it was ready, and we submitted it. I wanted some fairly sophisticated specials on the monsters in the area, so I decided to code them myself. After much persistence on my part, I eventually started coding on the main MUD code. After a pretty short time, I reached the dizzy heights of Implementor, and have never looked back.

2. Describe the many enhancements the Burning programmers have made which distinguish it from a standard gamma DikuMUD.


  • 50/50 base levels + unlimited meta levels (max so far 56)
  • 7 well balanced classes (+ multiclasses) and 9 races.
  • Large World (21,400 rooms in 180+ areas and growing.)
  • 6000+ rooms of randomly-generated mayhem, ‘The Well’
  • Free rent and extra item storage (individual lockers)
  • Extensive ANSI colors.
  • Built in aliases, gags, combat statistic logs etc.
  • Very advanced hunt system (room, object and mobile)
  • Many original skills(50+) & spells(200+).
  • Unique Guide and Navigator transportation system.
  • Spirits – Automated Mud and Newbie Introduction.
  • Meta Shop (buy stats up to 25).
  • Configurable prompt, tickcounter, and large toggle menu.
  • Automated auction system, equipment splitting dice room.
  • No player killing except for the risk free arena (no eq/exp loss)
  • Multiple attacks, advanced mob specials.
  • Friendly helpful immortals, Quests, and Powergroups (50+)
  • No multiplaying, limited equipment or playerfile deletes!
  • Almost totally rewritten from original DIKU.
  • A great player-run Burning Web newspaper, URL: http://www.angelfire.com/sc/burningnews/index.html

Torain: I can list a few of the area-related improvements (to try to list all the improvements would take far too much space). Most of our improvements to the area code involve making monsters more intelligent: mobprogs (ala the standard, with many of our own improvements), custom-designed spell and skill special procedures, event triggers (other than mobprogs), plus mob races, immunities, vulnerabilities, and resistances. We have also added code to automatically balance objects based on their power (not the power of the monsters that carry them), we have several new and different item types (obelisks, herbs, astral gates, etc). Overall I think the thing that distinguishes our improvements from the other muds with similar features is that we don’t take the easy way out – we always take an idea and improve it, make it more powerful, more flexible, and more interesting – our code improvements aren’t the same patches you find on every clone mud out there. Of course my favorite improvement is the Well – an area to redefine the concept of areas. More code than static text files, it is the most dynamic and challenging area you will find anywhere. But I’ll let it speak for itself.

Stile: I would have to say that the biggest project we have implemented on the MUD in the last couple of years is probably among our most original features. It is a vast, randomly generated area, known as The Well. It features 20 levels of a catacomb-style layout, getting progressively more dangerous the deeper you adventure. Other features I have implemented include: an object mailing system; a corpse retrieval office; an equipment-splitting facility, to share out the spoils of battle; an experience/gold log, and many many more. My current/future projects include an OLC system, a revised auction system, and further enhancements and expansion of The Well.

3. How has running Burning affected your life, for good and bad? What have you taken away from the experience so far?

Lorgalis: I would without hesitation say that BurningMud has affected me for the better. Although I spent perhaps too many hours mudding the first couple of years, I did meet a lot of nice people from all over the world. Some of us started BurningMud and without the MUD I would probably never have gotten my first job. When I first started coding on muds I did not know a single line of C coding. I had ‘The C programming language’ by Richard Kernighan at one side of the keyboard and a bunch of snacks at the other. I owe my first job and the success I had at it due to the fact that I had become so good at C from MUD coding. Finally, I would like to point out that all the people I have met on muds, and especially BurningMud, has made an enormous impact on me! Though I have never met most of them in the real life, I count them to be among my best friends.

Torain: Running Burning, for me, has been the ultimate plateau for what has been an inspirational, educational, and thoroughly enjoyable mudding career so far. Here, I have seen many of my ideas come to life, I see the players enjoying my work, I have learned much about dealing with the little problems and disputes that occasionally crop up, and I have fostered and developed many friendships that I hope to keep for a long time.

Stile: I have made many friends through my playing and coding on Burning. In fact, I met several people at my university that I would not have otherwise bumped into. I think that is one of the best aspects of BurningMUD – it really is a friendly place. Trawling through, and trying to understand, the standard gamma code has helped advance my C programming skills, an asset which I find very useful now in my career as a computer programmer. Despite the lower wages we MUD admins are exposed to, I get great satisfaction from the fact that I am helping make other people happy. The only bad effect Burning has had on my life was that it seriously interfered with my university studies. Of course that is my fault, not Burning’s. But I still don’t regret it one little bit. Burning provided me with hours and hours of entertainment, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to give something back.

4. Where do you see Burning in 5 years? What has changed? What is still the same?

Lorgalis: Who knows? Five years is quite a long time. If new features continue being created at the same rate as they have over the last 3 years, Burning will soon become one of the most advanced muds on the internet. A few players have expressed concern that, with Burning’s growing popularity, we may become commercial like Avalon or such. This will never happen – the MUD is here to provide a fun environment for everyone, not just those with lots of money to spend on MUDding. One thing that will remain constant is our stability – we strive to make Burning one of the most stable muds around. Also, one thing that will never ever change is the friendly, social atmosphere that has existed ever since the MUD was created (8 years ago) .

Torain: I see Burning continuing to grow and prosper well into the future. We have a solid base of dedicated players, an active staff of immortals, and I could write books on the ideas and visions I have for what Burning will be in the distant future. Burning will have matured and improved further, gaining new players, and keeping old ones. We will still be adding to Burning, and Burning will keep growing for many, many more years.

Stile: I think we would all like to see the player base grow quite a bit, and to that end I am sure we will be concentrating some effort into adding new features that will attract new players and keep them hooked. Maybe some kind of hypnotic signal embedded in the room descriptions or something. With the addition of OLC, the number of area builders should increase quite substantially, which will help grow the MUD in the right direction. Basically, I think Burning will be bigger and better, continuing the growth of the last 3 years. Of course, who can tell what can happen in 5 years?

5. What do you think modern mudders value and how does Burning cater to their interests?

Torain: I think modern mudders value efficiency – lets face it, we all find ourselves with less and less free time, and more and more commitments in real-life that take away from our mudding (the voice of a true addict ๐Ÿ™‚ ) They want to be able to advance and gain power quickly, but at the same time, they want to feel that they have accomplished something. That is, you can’t just hand them 50 levels and say “Have fun” – they need to do something that makes them feel like they earned the power and status they have achieved. Burning has attempted (and will continue to attempt) to find a good balance between the two. If you make a MUD too hard, many players don’t have the time to get anywhere, but if it is too easy, those who have the time find it boring after they get to the top. We have a multi-tiered system where you not only can get to a comfortable place relatively easily (with a little help), but then you can continue playing almost indefinitely.

6. What do you feel is Burning MUD’s greatest asset in in terms of catering to a growing bimodal populace of adventurers?

Lorgalis: I definitely feel that Burning’s greatest asset is the wide variety and flexible communications channels. One can talk with other people in the game on numerous different channels. It is possible to use hundreds of socials ( a way of expressing human emotions like smile, grin, curse, hug, laugh, etc) in local, remote or group channels. It is the friendly and well used communication channels that makes Burning to more than just a game. It is a place to meet new and old friends, to listen, to talk and contrary to the views on the internet, it is social!

7. What do you consider as Burning’s most valuable assets?

Torain: Our players are our most valuable assets. Unfortunately, many mud administrators seem to forget this. Without players, Burning would cease to exist. Many of our best features and many of the things that make Burning unique can be credited to creative players who suggested, debugged, and in many times created them for us. Most of our gods are players too, and most of them started as players before joining the staff. Burning is a MUD that has been created and shaped by player input. Those of us in charge just do the work ๐Ÿ™‚

8. Outline and discuss the political and economical aspects of Burning MUD and how they affect the realism and social standards apparent in the MUD community.

Lorgalis: Burning, like most muds out there, is maintained by devoted former players from all over the world. Though no one gets paid in money, the rewards are great. Contributing to make the mud better by spending countless of hours and watching the (hopefully) positive reactions from the players is what keeps the crew going. The people running Burning are called ‘immortals’ to separate them from the mortals, the players. The immortals are separated in 11 different levels of power whereof the highest level is called implementor. Currently there are 3 implementors and about 30 immortals. Although all of the immortals have quite some power of the mortals, and the implementors over the immortals, the goal of each ruling level is to not intervene. The immortals will only use their power if obnoxious players harass other players and the implementors will only act if the immortals act too much. In other words, the politics in BurningMud strive to not exist.

9. How do the players at Burning differ from those at other MUDs?

Torain: Players at Burning differ in their diversity (and I’m not talking real- life diversity). Most MUDs, even the biggest, most popular ones, have players who prefer a certain set of features or a certain codebase or a certain interface. Burning, which has unique, original implementations of many features and many of the best features of several codebases caters to many different types of players, from powermudders to role-players and a full spectrum in-between.

Players Chosen:

Staffan Mahlen (Map), 3009 playing hours.
Yuhaw Chen (Coyote), 1800 playing hours.
Mattias Nilsson (Morfin), 2500 playing hours.
Jane Harrison (Wren), 3083 playing hours.

1. How did you start playing Burning?

Map: I started out when the mud was young back in late 95, early 96. I used to play the old Burning which was located in the US, and which was quite a different piece of work but was kinda fun, which I guess was the reason I tried this one.

Coyote: I first started playing Burning MUD approximately 4 years ago, when I first tripped over the Burning homepage.

Morfin: I started playing Burning over three years ago, when a friend of mine (Vogon), dragged me over, after being dragged over himself by Map.

Wren: Well, I used to IRC a lot, and my brother used to play a lot of MUDs. And so, when I became bored of IRC, my brother introduced me to Burning MUD. I decided to make a little cleric, and thats how Xara was born. I’ve been playing ever since, and although I have tried at least a hundred other muds, I’ve never found as cool a MUD as Burning.

2. How long did it take you to get used to Burning, and how easy was it?

Map: Since I’ve been mudding since the 80’s and had played the earlier version of Burning, it was quite easy to get used to it. If by getting used to it you mean getting to the top levels and starting to do the major areas it was quite some time though. Burning is a challenge to any mudder, but also playable by anyone. I wouldn’t recommend Burning as a beginners mud, even though many of our “distinguished citizens” had Burning as their first mud.

Coyote: It took me about 3 weeks or so before I was really used to Burning. Most of this time was taken up trying to learn the beginning lowbie zones and getting used to the commands and concepts that were used on Burning. Most of the players were quite helpful and I received plenty of help from everybody if I had any questions or misunderstandings.

Morfin: It only took me an hour or two to get used to the feel of the mud – I had a couple of years mudding experience before. Of course, the immortals were very helpful in answering any and all questions I had. They always listened to any suggestions I had.

Wren: I think it took me about a month to really get into the swing of things. It took me a while to get used to playing a MUD, as this was my first one. The other players were pretty cool, they were always willing to give me a helping hand when I ran into difficulty, and helped me to get some equipment now and then.

3. What do you like most about Burning?

Map: What I like most is the neverending challenge. You can never be the best and you can never get all the best eq in Burning. The world is huge, and not all the major mobs have died and quite a few of them only once or twice. The character development is endless, without making every combination similar and the players stay around for years. The fact that the players stay on this mud and dont get as bored as on many other muds also means that we get to know each other in a way not common to the average mud. The most original thing i like about Burning is The Well though, a randomly generated, special-driven zone with incredible opportunity for challenging mudding and a different type of reward.

Coyote: There isn’t quite as big a penalty for dying as on other muds, which I like because I can explore the mud more without risk of a big loss from death. Exploring the mud and getting to know all of its zones is one of the most fun parts about playing. I am glad to say that I am probably one of the few players on the MUD that knows almost all the zones. Burning is a huge mud with over 20000 rooms and new zones get added every couple of months. Theres even one special zone in the mud thats just called The Well, which is probably my favourite zone in the game.

Morfin: Its a very well coded mud, with quite a few nice people. The atmosphere is very friendly and helpful, people are always willing to give a hand to one another.

Wren: I really enjoy the great variety of original areas that burning boasts, and the way the game is so nicely balanced. It is a grouping mud, with a nice social atmosphere. I like the way that, whenever I have a suggestion or problem, the immortals are always willing to listen to me and consider my ideas.

4. How has Burning improved since you started playing?

Map: It has gone from a simple powermud with somewhat MERCish features to a well balanced, very challenging, and fun mud. Amongst the changes is the stability of the code, with major rewards to players that manage to crash the mud, but the main changes are based in the gameplay. To start listing features would be silly since it would take way too long, and I wouldnt even know where to begin, but in general one might say it just plain isn’t the same mud anymore. The world usually grows with about one area per month, and is now at a guess around 18-20,000 rooms, and the combination of new classes makes the character specialization near endless.

Coyote: There have been many improvements since I first started playing. It is now possible to achieve almost unlimited levels if one plays enough, and it is easier than ever now to find The Well. Quite a few new zones were added since I started playing, and now there’s more players than ever, which means there’s plenty of new people for me to meet and talk to.

Morfin: The code base is now extremely stable, which is a big plus – you never have to worry about downtime. The world has been expanded immensly, and is ideal for the explorer. One of my favourite features of the MUD is a relatively recent addition – The Well. The automatic EQ balancing makes sure that we dont have underpowered or overpowered equipment for our level, which makes Burning very fair.

Wren: I think there’s a lot more grouping going on nowadays, at least at the higher levels. There are a LOT more areas to play around in and explore. The powergrouping aspect of the game has improved considerably, with many more of these groups being formed in recent months. And of course, there is The Well, which offers oodles of fun and challenge for anyone brave or foolish enough to try.

Burning is my Motm pick for February ’99 because it is a shining example of how player dedication can bring a mud back from the brink to what is today a thriving community. I remember Burning during the days before its implementors decided they didn’t want to bother, and I remember when it disappeared. The Burning of today is far superior, and the current administration should be commended for their efforts in saving the mud from becoming a memory.

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