The oldest virtual world in existence will be playable again soon.
MUD or Multi User Dungeon games are widely regarded as having been pivotal in the development of MMOs. The original MUD title later referred to as MUD1 holds specific significance in the genre as in 1980 this became the first internet multiplayer role playing game. It was in this year the Essex University developers of MUD1 connected the internal university network to the ARPANET, an early precursor of the internet.
Taking inspiration from text based adventures like Zork and Colossal Cave Adventure, MUD1 began life in 1978 under Essex University programmer Roy Trubshaw who handed the project to collaborator Richard Bartle in 1980. Later versions of the game were eventually picked up and licenced by CompuServe, who in 1987 pressured Bartle to close down the original instance of MUD1 running on the Essex University network.
Now the original source code for MUD1 has been found and passed on to Stanford University who report they have gained permission from Trubshaw and Bartle to republish the game saying that they, “will be allowed to provide online access to the MUD1 source code files.” Although no date for access to MUD1 has as yet been provided a playable version should appear on Stanford’s game archive project How They Got Game.
In time you’ll get your chance to once more play a game that’s holds a coveted place in the history of gaming in it’s original form.