What is Lockwood?
Lockwood is Appendix G’s first production. It is a post-apocalyptic, western, scifi, text-based multi-user dungeon online game (such a long description, sheesh). For short, the community around these types of (text) games just uses the term MUD. We’ll use this term frequently throughout our blog. The genre of Lockwood, for short, is simply post-apoc, since that is the overarching concept and the western and scifi bits are just highly influential.
What does this mean? What is a MUD? Good question. A MUD is a text game, which is just that, entirely text. There are very little, if any graphics in MUDs. For you, the player, that means that what you see is something like a wall of text during the gameplay (except that it moves and is very visually appealing with colorization). Everything is written out by yours truly, and transmitted over an age-old internet protocol (one of the first) known as TELNET. Just because the protocol is old doesn’t mean the genre or the game has to be at all stale.
Why would anyone want to play a text game? Text games provide an element that graphical games seem to lack, and that’s the evocation of creativity and imagination. Whenever you play a graphics-based game you’re spoon-fed exactly what is happening on-screen with very little margin for creative liberty. We’re not knocking graphics games — we love to play them, too. However, text games provide great freedom in creativity, and it’s all done through written descriptions. Just like any great story, MUD game play is not dissimilar; it plays out like a story, but you’re one of the characters, and you decide where the story goes. It’s similar to an MMO in that there is no foreseeable end, and the in-game world comes to life with bustling activity.
How does it work and how do you play? Well, it works over a client-server connection, kind of like logging into your favorite website. Once logged in to any MUD server, the server will send your computer information about the game, and what is happening at that moment (ie: where you are, what your character is holding, etc). The text sent through the internet is then outputted to you through special clients (see: MUSHClient, Mudlet, Cmud) that you use on your computer, but the output is in the form of scrolling text.
(Can I have a less technical description please?) (Yes you may) Basically, it’s like The Matrix, in case you’ve seen that movie. At first it all looks like cryptic gibberish when you’re playing. You can’t keep up with how fast the text appears to you and you’re in sensory overload. But then, as you get used to it, instead of reading entire lines you begin to take out pieces of a line and formulate mental images of what’s happening. After a while, you don’t even read anymore you just know what’s happening by the way things look. And that is when text games truly transcend anything graphics games could hope to become.
Who plays MUDs? This is a very important question. MUD communities are the reason that MUDs both exist and thrive in the culture of the internet today. Most MUD users are fairly mature and open-minded. Not to discriminate, but you won’t find many console or FPS players on MUDs for many reasons. One of them is the format, the other is the behavior expectations, and still another reason is the complexity and learning curve associated with playing MUDs. MUDs are not for everyone; you must persevere if you want to play. But, it’s for this reason that MUD communities are so strong and lively when they’re established. The people who don’t like MUDs or who would present a problem playing MUDs are typically weeded out in the first few hours of gameplay. This type of osmosis is why there is a love-hate relationship with MUDs and their developers. We love the close-knit communities, but we hate the fact that they’re so small. Without a doubt, it’s a challenge.
Lastly, where can I learn more about MUDs? Here. Or Wikipedia, or search around the web for more info. Unlike TELNET, it is very well documented. There’s even some communities that exist for MUDs, like Mudbytes and Planet Mud Dev (they are a MUD blog aggregator). Of course, if you have any questions about MUDs, please feel welcome to leave a comment or contact us in one of many ways.