Originally known as Multi-User Dungeon, and later on as Multi-User Dimension, and Multi-User Domain, a MUD is the electronic variation of the classic pen-and-paper role-playing games that became such a hit among fantasy and science fiction gamers during the 80s. With its shift into the virtual world of the computer and the internet, MUD players mostly use texts to interact and describe their actions in the virtual world.
Traditionally, MUDs are set in a fantasy world having coarse parameters. Fictional races like elves, dwarves, orcs and ogres; mythical creatures such as giants, angels, and dragons; and the more sinister vampires, werewolves and the undead, inhabit these fantasy worlds, with MUD players usually creating their virtual counterparts as their playing character. These characters roam and explore these worlds, do quests, kill monsters, and uncover legendary artifacts. Playing characters most often are chosen with specific classes such as mages and rogues for example to gain class-specific skills and abilities that will aide them in their journey and encounters throughout the fantasy world.
Although traditional MUDs were set in fantasy-based worlds, with most others having a science fiction design, there is perhaps an endless list of possibilities that you can fashion your MUD universe after. Many MUD genres were based on movies, books, animations and cartoons, and historical events. There are MUDs that are not entirely for gaming purposes. Others can be educational and interactive social environments.
Originally your MMORPGs or massive multiplayer online role-playing games, with popular titles such as World of Warcraft and EverQuest, were known as graphical-MUDs before their sophisticated evolution. In the past few years with the recognition of the entertainment industry in general, and the gaming industry in particular, the popularity of online gaming and MMORPGs has every fantasy and science fiction franchise taking a crack at building a MMORPG world. From the pioneering role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons franchise, to the science fiction phenomenon Star Wars saga, to comic books DC Universe and fantasy novels the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, all currently possess a MMORPG to let their avid followers delve deeper into their respective universes.
MUDs usually were created for recreational purposes and are mostly free to join and play. But with the entry of the big-name gaming companies and franchises that treat computer gaming and entertainment as business the MUD-evolved MMORPGs nowadays are mostly charging a monthly subscription fee or at the very least an initial payment for you to access these highly advanced virtual worlds.