mud, nostalgia

Finding happiness in text

For Miranda and Tristy, who helped me discover my love of tales. May the Minotaur live forever in our hearts.

You could be forgiven for not knowing what a MUD is in 2016. Created in the late 1970s, they're the original "massively multiplayer" games - text-based online worlds full of mystery and adventure. As graphical horsepower has become easier to afford, the popularity of MUDs and their kin has waned in turn. Some MUDS, like GemStone IV, still have active, dedicated player bases (though their numbers pale in comparison to the average AAA MMO of today). Their impact and legacy can be felt to this day: these games are the ancestors of Ultima Online and EverQuest, titles that arguably set the MMO genre in motion. Those games, in turn, eventually lead us to modern titles like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV.

Even though the heyday of the MUD is over, they still played a pivotal in my life when I was in middle and high school. Some of my oldest friends are folks I met online in those days. A lot of the memories are hazy, my old writings and records long since lost to bit rot and failed hard drives, but my time in SporkMUCK will always be close to my heart.

If you stumbled in to the back alleys of Spork's gloomy, dilapidated city-of-industry, you might have stumbled across a small bar nestled in to the side of a brick building. The sign to the right of the door, small and dingy, would have read The Happy Minotaur. Behind the bar counter, a quiet older gentleman would be polishing glasses, humming along with the music. Tapping out inspect Trokair on your keyboard, you'd have seen something like this:

Intelligent, lighthearted, and possessing a somewhat irritatingly happy demeanor, Trokair ended up in Spork City many months ago for some strange reason or another. Full of tales of faraway lands, he doesn't talk much about himself, although it is widely known that he's had a lot of experience in the restaurant business. A guru when it comes to medieval history, Trokair has studied the art of staff-fighting for many years, and is quite formidable when armed with a 6-foot long cylinder of oak. Sadly, Trokair has a problem with alcoholic beverages, and tends to drink too many of them on a regular basis, but disdains any sorts of 'illegal substances' and claims that the smoke from tobacco products 'irritates his lungs'. He currently resides in an apartment over the Happy Minotaur Bar, where he works as the local bartender.

I spent many hours in that bar, chatting with regulars like Miranda, Tristy, Alex, and Gravecat. We talked about life, relationships, things we liked to do, and what we wanted to build in this virtual city. I practiced mixing fake drinks, eager to put the /emote command to good use, always asking if I could get anyone anything. I couldn't have asked for a more understanding, respectful group of friends at a time in my life when I didn't have too many of my own. All of you will forever hold a special place in my heart.

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About Kyle Bedell

Kyle's been writing about tech, ludology, and storytelling since 2004. When not soldering, playing board games, or geeking out over hardware, he can be found reading a good sci-fi or fantasy novel.
  • Massachusetts, United States