March '99 Mud of the Month

The origins of TOS TrekMUSE are steeped in obscurity. What we know for certain is that it began as a dream to bring the realm of Star Trek to life. We know that the first staff members struggled with the sheer volume of Star Trek-related material, working for long hours in those early years, absorbing as much as possible. The first two years passed like this, with painfully small steps-care had to be taken if the dream were to grow to its full potential. The source code was reinvented from scratch, its systems were planned so that their growth would be slow. The dream deserved no less.

This dedication grew while we were being prepared to inherit the project. Paramount Pictures came to recognize the staff’s efforts. The stars from the first six films visited for interviews. Our player-base grew more diverse, more dedicated, more friendly. By the time TOS TrekMUSE emerged from its infancy, people from across the globe were joining the team and bringing their unique skills and perspectives with them in the very spirit of the Star Trek ideal.

Today, we are TOS TrekMUSE. We have watched in wonder as commercial games such as Star Fleet Academy have adapted our approaches and delivered them to the world, stared in disbelief as our very actions shape the future of the Star Trek franchise. When we look around, we see that we’re working with people from nearly every continent on Earth to produce something that we must someday give to the next generation. We see the legacy of those that came before us, the burden of our responsibility, and the hope for the future.

Star Trek Lives.

–The Players of TOS TrekMUSE

1. What MUDs did you participate in before joining TOS TrekMUSE? How long was it before the urge to create your own MU* took over?

MacGyver: Way back in what I guess was the ‘golden’ age of the Internet, there weren’t many MU* out there. My first MU* was TNG TrekMUSE, followed by TinyTIM and of course MicroMUSE. I saw the direction that TNG TrekMUSE was heading, and while I respect the path they chose, I felt that I should create my own path. It took about 6 months before I finally decided to create TOS Trek. It’s been an interesting ride ever since.

Cornwell: I participated on TNG TrekMUSE and PennMUSH for a couple of years. I met MacGyver at TNG TrekMUSE and began working on the TOS TrekMUSE concept. I have been with TOS TrekMUSE since its conception.

Athaorh: I started playing on TNG TrekMUSE in July of ’93 or ’94 (who can remember back that far anyway? :-). I enjoyed myself there a lot for a couple of years before I finally came to realise it had become just a big arcade game, like a text-based version of Galaxian, and it was no longer fun (though a lot of other people still seemed to enjoy it for exactly that reason). By this time, I’d been introduced to this other place called TOS TrekMUSE), and found there quality RP, a truly immersive environment and some great, well-balanced code.

K’tohk I joined TOS in late ’93 or early ’94, because I knew MacGyver and he suggested I do so. What I found was one of the most enriching environments I have experienced. TOS TrekMUSE was the first MU* I ever joined, and over the years I have occasionally “tasted” others, only to find them sorely lacking what TOS has: real role-play and a superb coding environment. I joined the Klingon Empire and have remained there since, attempting to foster real Klingon RP and a real sense of honour and camaraderie amongst the Klingons. TOS TrekMUSE is the only place I’ve ever been where it feels like you’re a Klingon, where the space and RP environments foster feelings of really decloaking off your enemy’s bow and slamming her with a few torpedoes. I have never experienced the level of realism and excitement that exists on TOS, on any other MU*, or for that matter, any other game.

As a director, I still enjoy those things I enjoyed as a player, but now with much-enhanced ability to improve them as well. Participating in providing an ever-better environment for Star Trek role-play is exciting, and it is a joy to see the fruits of our efforts in the role playing that happens on TOS.

2. How closely related is the world of TOS TrekMUSE to the world created in the original series and the films? Where does the mud begin to branch off?

MacGyver: The setting of TOS Trek is right after the sixth installment of the movies. Being as true to the canon of the original series as possible has always been one of my goals. I think in this regard we’ve done well, although it’s been difficult. There’s always the constant pressure to introduce many of the TNG races like the Borg or the Cardassians, but I’ve stuck to my guns and kept TOS as true as we can to the original crew.

Cornwell: They are very closely related as we stick to canon sources of info. It branches off in terms of the Orions are gone, and the Tholians were a main empire for a while Nimbus III (from ST:V) plays a much different role, as well.

Athaorh: TOS TrekMUSE is set shortly after Star Trek VI. Since our players have complete control over the direction of their role playing environment, we have seen some very exciting times. Generally speaking, however, we have not strayed far from the initial image that Gene Roddenberry created.

K’tohk TOS TrekMUSE history begins just after Star Trek VI: The Final Frontier. Our history branches from there. For example, the Klingons have become much more aggressive than perhaps the indications were in ST VI. Fighting seems a better option than treaties and foreign aid.

Jo Technologically, we hew close to the line drawn by the Original Series of Star Trek. In term of alien cultures, most have been expanded on, based on books and other sources, to have a lot more richness and depth than that presented in the Series (which was pretty humanocentric).

3. Where do you see TOS TrekMUSE in five years? Why?

MacGyver: Five years…that’s a long time. I think over the next five years our code base will evolve to the next level. Our interactive systems like Space, Economy and RP will become even more realistic than they are now. We’ve spent a great deal of time designing them, and I expect over the coming years we’ll redesign them yet again as we apply the lessons we’ve learned from the previous versions. I think our player base will become even more diversified, as the Internet becomes more global. I suspect it won’t be unusual to see a large number of players on 24×7.

Cornwell: I see TOS TrekMUSE still being here and continuing to grow. TOS TrekMUSE is one of the best coding environments on the net, which has always been our task. It also focuses very much on the interaction of players. TOS TrekMUSE has been around for 7+ years so far, so I see it continuing to survive.

Athaorh: Speaking as one of the current developers of the TOS TrekMUSE space system, I can tell you that the future holds some bright things for us! Even though the current TOS Space v3.1 is regarded by many as one of the best, most well-balanced space systems on the Internet (geared not just for space combat, but for an all-round RP experience), there are a number of major improvements planned for the next few months.

Indeed, the space code is being rewritten and revisited from the ground up, taking advantage of the experience of the past 4 years of operation, and better tuning the system to the operational requirements of a fun, playable and realistic space simulation (not to mention a whole slew of new features which are found – or even dreamed about – nowhere else). As a physicist, I’m honour-bound to do things right.

When the current generation of TOS Space was released, it was full of features which were found in no other space system. Now, almost four years later, TOS Space still contains features which are lacking in other systems (though to be fair some of the other current space systems have become very nice, though focussed differently than TOS)

Further down the line, a fully graphical client/server interface is planned (Remember those cool tactical displays in Star Trek II? That’s what we’re aiming for, and more!), as well as a list of technical and functional enhancements too long to list here.

K’tohk I see TOS as the premier MU* online, as it is now, but with many new features. I see an even more realistic/feature-rich space system as a successor to the superb system in place now. In five years, I imagine all-graphical clients will be available for TOS, to further enhance the realism of the TOS experience. I also see the same realistic RP, the same emphasis on being true to Star Trek, the same dedication from players, admin, and directors, as we have now. The features and systems on TOS enhance the RP experience, often quite significantly, but they don’t create it. TOS will always be a haven for those seeking real Star Trek RP, now and five years from now.

Jo Still going strong. The player base is medium sized, and still turning over well, with lots of new people all the time. We offer a fairly special role-play environment, which is different from that available elsewhere, and that will always keep us popular with a certain segment of the RP’ing community.

4. What has been the greatest trial of TOS TrekMUSE? Why?

MacGyver: There have been two major trials for TOS. First, there have been technical issues. We’ve had a couple of disk crashes that have hurt us in the past, although we’ve bounced back from each stronger than ever. Any project that’s been around as long as we have suffers from these on occasion. The second trial is an ongoing one — the struggle to keep TOS an interesting place to attract new players to. In a sense, we have two strikes against us: unlike TNG, DS9 and Voyager, there are no ‘new’ TOS episodes out there — and they’re not playing reruns of the show like they used to be; the second strike is that since the TNG-based shows are so pervasive today, they also tend to be the more popular ones, which makes it that much harder to attract people. I think in the future, that will be our greatest challenge — to attract and retain players, even in the face of the notion that TOS is somehow ‘less Trekish’ than the other shows.

Cornwell: The greatest trial was to get players focused on role playing and finding/generating RP on their own. A lot of MU* run into players just wanting everything done or handed to them.

Athaorh: Continually reinventing ourselves to present our players with the best possible Star Trek experience. Players can be a fickle lot, especially when they’ve come to expect quality 🙂

K’tohk I would say there have been two great trials: one has been the occasional technical glitch that causes a major catastrophe (death of disk, etc.), but these have been overcome impressively. Probably the greatest trial is ongoing: making TOS TrekMUSE still the best, most realistic MU* on the net. Maintaining and advancing TOS requires constant vigilance; we cannot allow ourselves to coast. When activity levels dwindle in an empire, something must be done; when Klingons aren’t RPing real Klingons, we must step in and train them; when a particular softcode system is done and in place, we still strive to make it better, more true to Star Trek. TOS’ greatest trial is “doing it right.” But the fruit of that effort is marvelous.

Jo Some of the serious downtimes which came during the coding upgrades and work going on in 1995 to seriously improve the server and bring in Space. They really knocked us back to just the devoted core.

5. What has been the greatest ‘victory’ that TOS TrekMUSE has achieved?

MacGyver: The environment. We’ve been blessed with having extremely dedicated players who love the original series, and more importantly, love to experience it. Our team has put together a comprehensive set of systems to facilitate roleplay, but they’re nothing without players who enjoy it. The mix of technology and roleplay we’ve achieved, has been by far the most rewarding aspect of TOS over the years. Our players are very dedicated, and enjoy it thoroughly. We’ve done very well in that regard.

Cornwell: The implementation of realistic Space, Economy, and RP systems.

Athaorh: The standards of role-play we have been privileged to enjoy. My fondest memories of TOS TrekMUSE are from the time before I became a director, when as a player I found myself involved in some truly superb role-playing events. Looking back, I had become so immersed in the activities of my character that I remember them as if they actually happened (really!).

This is a credit both to the imagination and abilities of the players, as well as the builders and coders of TOS for creating such a rich representation of the Star Trek Universe – when role-playing can get you so involved in the events in which your character is taking part, you know you are on to a good thing.

Now that I’m a director and primarily taken up with development work, I no longer have the advantage of experiencing this first-hand, but I still see the same qualities which I enjoyed so much expressed in the current crop of players. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the dream kept alive in the next generation 🙂

K’tohk “The TOS TrekMUSE experience” is the greatest victory. In other words, the RP environment, the space environment, the dedication of players, and the coding environment, all rolled into one. Technically, TOS is excellent. But more than that, it is the role-play and realism that is made possible by the systems and players on TOS which are its greatest victory. These are the things which set TOS apart from the rest, and which are the powerful draw to myself and many others.

Jo Moving from a coders MUSE to an RP’ers MUSE. I didn’t think it could be done, and yet it happened. We’ve gone from a place where great coding was the end all and be all to a place were RP’ing is the first and foremost activity, and that’s a neat step.

6. The Original Series? Isn’t that, like, ancient and embarrassing?

Athaorh: The original star trek series didn’t have all the production values and glitz of your TNGs and DS9s, but the ideas and ideals behind the stories are timeless. You won’t find any Cardassians or Borg on TOS TrekMUSE, but you will find a MUSE which is dedicated to playing out Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future in all its glory.

Comments by S’Kard, a Romulan player: Having tried more MU*s than Monica Lewinsky can shake a cigar at, it was a number of aspects that made me call TOS TrekMUSE my home. It wasn’t the fact that it was by far the newbie-friendliest place I had ever visited. It wasn’t the extensive chargen process that guided me how to RP a Romulan that would scare big Gene Roddenberry himself with the realism. It wasn’t TOS’ well-developed, fully interactive Economy System. It wasn’t its Space System – the most realistic system in which I have had the pleasure of flying a War-Cruiser. And it wasn’t the fact that the interfaces to these systems were the easiest while not limiting function. It wasn’t for the high standard of RP expected of players. And it definitely wasn’t for the excellent mortal/immortal OOC relations that lets TOS continually re-establish the standard for MUSE/MUSHes while maintaining its position at the top of the list. And lastly, it wasn’t for the fact that actual coders actively encouraged and patiently assisted even the newbiest newbie learn as much about coding as they wanted, THEN encourage them to use these newly acquired skills in building their own environment. Hrmmm…well, okay you got me. I lied. It WAS for all of these reasons. But it only took the first for me to move in permanently. To quote an infamous line from ‘Jerry MaGuire’: “Shut up [TOS]…you had me at hello.”

Comments by Zorek, a Federation player: I think TOS at the time is in a tough place with many players leaving or giving up on RP, and I’ve seen a few new people come on during the morning needing some Admin help that they couldn’t get. But in my opinion TOS is still the best RP experience there is, the coded systems are all superb and most if not all players are always kind and helpful. It would be great to see some more Admins as dedicated to players as Hansen, Jacien, and Velvok are. All in all, TOS is a great place for experienced users to be challenged and for new users to get started in some awesome RP.

Comments by tal’In, a Klingon player: I have been on this MUSE for about a year. I have spent about the same amount of time on other MUSEs like this one. This one pales them all. On other MUSEs the Admin run the game, not the players. I feel that, on TOS TrekMUSE, it’s the players who command where the MUSE goes. It’s great to have a bunch of experienced builders, coders, and programmers who do nothing but build up the MUSE. I keep coming back here because there isn’t a lot of “twinkish” behavior. The people who play want to build the MUSE up and actually care about role-playing.

The experience here is more realistic. You start at the bottom, not knowing anything. You go to “school” to learn how to play on the MUSE and then you get to join on a ship. You then rise up the ranks as you play and learn more. This is why this is the only MUSE I play on. I play because I feel needed, like to meet interesting people, and to have fun. This MUSE provides all of these.

Comments by ElGatoMalo, a Federation player: I started my association with MU*ing almost two years ago, when I first purchased a computer. After reading a book on the roots of the Superhighway, I was particularly interested in the section that covered MUDs.

My first visit was to a MUD, in fact. However, they held little interest for me and I started to think the entire MU* deal was blown out of proportion. After searching for a couple more hours, I landed on TOS TrekMUSE.

The interface was amazingly easy, and I was greeted with all the help necessary to start my playing days there. No help files, no chargen setup (I didn’t learn what a “chargen,” or character generation, was until much later), very easy to set up. Later, I learned, that the friendliness to our guests and new characters was the standard in which to be measured across the ‘net.

One year and nine months later, I’ve established a name for myself on TOS TrekMUSE. I’ve visited other MU* in the past, but none of them have captured my interest like TOS has. It’s not even loyalty, it’s sheer quality. The Directorship allow player input and interaction on a level unimaginable to anywhere else. RP is superior, fairness practiced always, and the goal of having fun reigns supreme.

The hard-coded Space system is unique easy to understand but difficult to master. The interface are logical, be it through the hard-coded or soft-coded apparati. The hard work of the creators and their staff is evident in every aspect of the game.

ICly, opportunities abound. From an officer in the Fleet to a civilian entrepreneur on the verge of a monopoly – monetary wealth and power beyond imagination. Politics and diplomacy keep the peace … and start the wars.

TOS is unique across the ‘net. Where other MU* say they can, TOS TrekMUSE does.

When reviewing TOS TrekMUSE for our March mud of the month position I was delighted to find a world which I found famliar to me, even though I had never visited before. My experience with muses and other tiny-style muds is minimal, yet I found it remarkably easy to feel at home in the game, and through the use of the muse’s online education facility I had a thoroughly enjoyable time learning the ropes in preparation for joining the starfleet academy. My only regret is that I do not have enough time to become a full-time player. For all of you original series and films Star Trek fans out there, give this game a try!

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