In the 90's, while the internet was starting to get pictures, most of us were still using text to describe what things look like, what they did, and what happened to them after the dog got a hold of them. There were a great many ways in which this was done; but among the more non sequitur were the MUSH, MOO, MUCK, MUX, MUD (especially of the Tiny variety) etc. Many people connected, much fun was had, and little of it made sense.
So just what are all these acronyms about, and what do they have to do with cows, pancakes, Pop-Tarts®, pennies, dirty diapers, or Gary Numan? Well the MU, for those that have a MU*, stands for Multi-User... the rest is something of a subject for debate, as most are thought to be backronyms. Generally the user base is allowed to create objects and rooms, and to one degree or another program responses to events generated by other players, objects, and rooms in one of a few purpose-built languages fashioned after or otherwise baring a resemblance to gems like Forth (in the case of TinyMUCK) or Lisp (like MUSHcode for all the MUSH variants). What about the cows et al? Well, cows, pancakes, and Pop-Tarts® are easy. They're all awesome. Pennies and dirty diapers are the same things, of course. As are pancakes for different values of pancakes. If I need to explain what Gary Numan has to do with anything you are officially banned from reading my blog from this moment on, so go away.
All the Numan dissing wannabes gone? Good. So where was I? Oh, yes... user programmable text-based social interactions. It was still largely the time of coyotes and tumbleweed on the internet, and most things worth doing were still done with a keyboard. Graphics were for single player games, and the vast majority of the clicking came from our coveted IBM Model M keyboards. Much of this clicking was spent playing combat MUDs and programming. What could be more fun? Combining the two, and tossing in large amounts of insanity, while largely taking out the combat.
There were a lot of different systems up at that time, running different versions, and with different themes, if they had one at all. I was always a fan of the loose role play systems without a defined theme. My favorite was OtherMUSH, with its awesome Toilet Adventure, heavy TMBG references, and the ever popular and often fatal Bring Your Grandparents to OtherMUSH Day.
Today many have passed on into obscurity or otherwise vanished from the face of the net. While there are a few which remain, most are strict roleplay based on sci-fi or fantasy books, movies, or TV shows.
A few weeks ago, I set out trying to find OtherMUSH. The website still lives at other.org/ but the MUSH seems to no longer be there. Discouraged, but not willing to just let it go I decided to set out on a mission to bring some of that weirdness back to the net, or at least try to as best I could. To that end, I downloaded and installed the current version of TinyMUSH on my 'do it all' server, and began to relearn how MUSHcode worked and getting back into the frame of mind that once let me describe the most mundane in very obscure ways.
The documentation provided with TinyMUSH is very useful in setting it up, and o'kay at describing commands, it isn't so good at giving useful examples of how to make the commands work with each other. So I began searching again, hoping to come across a few long-forgotten websites which might prove useful. What I found instead was that while largely out of date there were lists which contained links to many MUSH, MUD, MUCK, MOO systems which are still in operation. Most of them are still of the strict role play variety, but a few worlds which subscribe to the 'if you build it weird, they will stay' mentality still remain. Of them, the two I'm having my mind wrapped around are:
TrippyMUSH is... well... trippy. Nuff said. I'll say more, but that was enough. TrippyMUSH is a wholly wonderful place; if you find surreal worlds which take place only in your own head but made by someone else which is actually happening in an asylum which you can never escape from because you were never actually there, wonderful. If not, you soon will; the strange coloured liquid on drip in the IV in your arm will make sure of that. Sound scary? That's only the first five minutes. Just remember, you can't quit, but you can go home... or at least that's what you'll imagine once you pass out.
telnet to pebkac.trippy.org 7567 to stop the hallucination and accept you are an inmate just like the rest of us.
TinyTIM is NOT just a game... it's a really, really BIG game. You think you're city/town/backwater hole in the world is big? It's got nothing on the world of TIM. TIM is God, and all praise TIM. He's not paying attention, but that's o'kay, he loves us anyway. Powered by Pop-Tarts® and smelling of The Old Man of the Nexus (which is something not unlike Old Spice and nursing homes) TinyTIM is the strangest thing you've seen all week. Yes, even stranger than that. You know you want to visit... you'll never want to leave. Even if you do, TIM will be with you always. Even during your special alone time in the shower.
telnet to yay.tim.org 5440 and come see the most complicated machine in all the MUSHdom, The Clock on the Wall. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder how you ever got through your day without TIM.
As for my MUSH. I'm still planning to subject the world to it. But it's not ready yet. Once it's half-baked I'll let everyone know.