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Kiralynn
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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

For those unfamiliar with MU* gaming, this goes back to 1990.

People used to dial up (or in rare cases the internet) to connect to a server running a game. The first game of this type was called a MUD, multi-user dungeon. Later, there were other, slightly more advanced varieties, such as MUSHes (multi-user shared hallucinations).

You used Telnet or some primitive client software that connected through Telnet for you.

The games were entirely text-based. In fact, it was years before the text had any color or formatting. Think of a MU* as an upgraded dial-up BBS or a game of Zork.

Zork is really the closest example. The game came with several pre-built commands that you could type, such as "look" and "inv" for inventory. You "moved around" by typing the name of an exit.

Basically, you'd get a screen that said something like:


Code: Select all
WELCOME CENTER

You are standing in a large, square room.  It is well appointed with luxury Medieval furnishings, including hardwood furniture, rich tapestries, and a massive stone hearth.  There is a keg of ale sitting beside a dozen pewter tankards on a side table.  Arched windows provide a view of beautiful, rolling hills.

Two ornate wood doors lead out of the room.  A door to the north leads out of the cottage.  A door to the south leads to the library, where you can find more information about this realm.

Exits:  North (N), South (S)


The power of the MU* came from the fact it could be reprogrammed from within the game. You could create new rooms, change descriptions, add new commands, and even create triggered events. For example, you could set the room description to change based on the time of day, provide an option to "drink ale", or even create an NPC that players could interact with. The programming syntax was simple but powerful.

Administrators often created scripts to help people who couldn't write their own code. For example, you could speak to a doorman at the apartment complex, ask for a new apartment, and have one created for you from scripts. You could then learn some basic commands to customize your apartment, set locks on the doors, and so forth.

Later, room descriptions sometimes contained a URL with a link to art or music related to the location you were in.

The first MUD was basically a giant game of Assassin. Everyone ran around fighting little computer-generated mobs, gaining gear and levels, so that they could fight other players. Very quickly, it turned into an environment for roleplay. PernMUSH was the biggest game that took place in the world of Pern. There were also high population games set in the World of Darkness, Marvel Superheroes, Star Trek, Star Wars, and other popular RP genres. On a good day, hundreds of people would be logged in at once, with half a dozen Narrators (story admins) on duty.

For tech geeks, it all ran on UNIX servers and didn't make the jump to Windows for a decade. This entire thing was coded in C and used a delimited flat file as the database. Years later, there was one version that could use an Access DB. Backups were essential and corruption was a monthly event. For the coders out there, yes, someone could bring down the server by writing bad code and having it executed on the fly. Fortunately, the Administrators could limit who had basic or full code writing abilities.

There are actually still some MU* out there. The technology doesn't seem to have improved much, but the players are dedicated and the roleplay is good. Hopefully, someday there will be an MMO that lets players contribute content (not just music), without being as complicated as that Everquest sandbox.


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re: re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

I remember MU*, not because I was around then to game, but because I'm interested in the history of gaming. More generally, MUDs were and are actually still around and quite popular, as people can now play them on their phones.

When I was at college, I actually tried out this one

http://mume.org/

with one of my friends who was a real Tolkien fan. I remember trying one of the options for a race, there was a Half-Elf option as well. I wanted to try out Hobbit but I must have pressed the wrong key (both starting from H I guess), so I ended up with a half-elf and I was annoyed and said out loud "I'm a hobbit, not a half-elf'.

At that moment I sensed someone behind us, and turned back and noticed my supervisor standing behind us; he'd come to bring me some research notes.

Needless to say that for the next week or so, I was known as 'the hobbit' haha.


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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

I tried MUDs back in the day but never heard of MUSH


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Juneith
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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Hmmm, I've actually read many of these, now to figure out which I missed, thanks for the link!
Carysta
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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Juneith wrote:
Hmmm, I've actually read many of these, now to figure out which I missed, thanks for the link!


You're welcome :) I reread Pern every few years and sometimes I go chronological and sometimes by publication date - it's interesting to see how things evolved both ways :)


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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Don't forget Restoree, and the Freedom's Landing series! I think the Ship series is the only one I haven't read...


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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Carysta wrote:
Juneith wrote:
Hmmm, I've actually read many of these, now to figure out which I missed, thanks for the link!


You're welcome :) I reread Pern every few years and sometimes I go chronological and sometimes by publication date - it's interesting to see how things evolved both ways :)



TGruthfully, I've only read them once,, never thought to set a reading schedule (I read them from the library in whatever order they were available),, will have to do a re-read..... as soon as I finish The Authurian Saga (Mary Stewart), my book club books, the bunch of Star Trek novels sitting on my shelf (never pass a book store without having to read....) I may have to reture to get all of this done.. :) thanks for the new goals in my life
Kiralynn
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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

I'm really enjoying the Pern play-by-post game over on Wordpress. I'm rather boggled that there isn't an official Pern RPG or even a movie (Game of Thrones proves not only how far CGI dragons have come but how much audiences love them). I've heard that Anne McCaffrey's son holds on to the copyright tightly. He published a number of books that aren't popular with any of the Pern fans I know, but nothing has come out in four years. Hopefully someday he'll let HBO take a swing at Pern.


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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Oh, nostalgia trip! I remember reading Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" series as they came out; loved 'em. Now I'm wondering if I can get 'em for my Kindle. I was unaware that there were role-playing games set on Pern. Golly!

One of my strongest memories of those days was the time I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Anne at Norwescon 9 back in 1986 in Seattle, where she was Guest of Honor and I was Fan Guest of Honor; or maybe it was the time I was Science Guest of Honor.


Anne was passionate about one point: On Pern, dragons are real, and Dragonriders of Pern is science fiction, not fantasy.


That came up because up to that time, Norwescon's focus had been on "hard" science fiction, billing itself as "Northwest Regional Science Fiction Convention." Some folks were complaining that the words "and fantasy" should be added since Anne McCaffrey's books were fantasy, and she took umbrage with that.


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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Harnuth wrote:
... Norwescon 9 back in 1986 in Seattle, where she was Guest of Honor and I was Fan Guest of Honor; or maybe it was the time I was Science Guest of Honor...



You were Fan Guest of Honor, sweetie. Coco found this in about 30 seconds: http://history.norwescon.org/collections/show/9

I didn't attend. I was less than one year old at the time and they wouldn't let me on the airplane by myself. :)

Jack remembered that you were Science Guest of Honor at that convention in Calgary, Alberta. I don't think you were ever SGoH at Norwescon but your buddy Jim Oberg was and he leveraged that into a nice career as a space science guy on one of the TV networks. Jeepers.


Oh, and I never read the "Pern" series but I sure am gonna find it now! Any place that dragons are real has got to be good!
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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Ohhh you will love it! It is so great! Technically SF but feels like fantasy :) And just good stories with all the good things in them.


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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

Harnuth wrote:
Now I'm wondering if I can get 'em for my Kindle.


I bet most of them are out in ebook format! I know all the Ship Who... series is!


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Dancyn
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re: Fans of Dragonriders of Pern

oh yes!! I've read all of her books!! and have re-read Dragonriders of Pern series several times!
.... a game!???


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