Once upon a time…

Well met crusaders,

Today’s post will be from a guest, a friend, a historian if you will. This guest of mine goes by the name Daniel and he will discuss a game called MUD1, which is one of the first that introduced a multiple-user RPG game.  Let’s go back in time, through history, to find the beginnings of something great.

Big Things have Small Beginnings

The first MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) like game, MUD1, was developed at Essex University, England in the fall of 1978 by Roy Trubshaw. A few intercessors of MUD1 are Colossal Cave Adventure (1976) by Will Crowther and Zork (1977) authored by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling.

Lebling, Blank, and Anderson summarized the future of multiplayer fantasy games best in 1977:

“putting aside implementation problems, a multiple-player game would need to have (we believe) fundamentally different types of problems to be interesting.”

Work in Progress

Version 1.0 by Trubshaw was a test program to ascertain if a shared memory system could work. Below is a short list of revisions and dates .

  • (MACRO-10 is the assembly language used on a DECSystem- 10 mainframe)
  • I   1978 Macro-10 shared memory test
  • II  1978 Macro-10  (playable but unwieldy)
  • III 1979 BCPL & MUDDL ( more commonly known as MUD1)

This Revision history continues from 1978-1991 but the scope of this article will just be on these three revisions please check the link below for the full revision history. The first version was not a playable game. The second revision was coded in its entirety by Trubshaw as was version one.

It was around the third version in the fall of 1979 that Trubshaw made a decision to split the game into two pieces. The game engine was written in BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) and the game world was written in MUDDL (Multi User Dungeon Definition Language). Richard Bartle was a significant coder, game designer, and predecessor who contributed largely to this revision.


Some unique facts about MUD and the third letter in the acronym though it does stand for Dungeon was named by Roy Trubshaw because of the version of Zork he was playing was a Fortran port called DUNGEN. This was in part due to the DEC-10’s filename system which was six character and all uppercase letters.[1]

Trubshaw wanted to create a multi-user version of DUNGEN and the rest was history.


[1] Bartle, R. A. (2004). Designing Virtual Worlds. Indiana: New Rider Publishing.

http://www.mud2.com/CMS/index.php/help/library/115 (Revision History)

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