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Textual Retrogaming: Nightfall Lives!

Nightfall MUD Login ScreenI am agog.

Please pardon the excursus – I have just discovered that Nightfall (a MUD that was founded back around 1990), is still alive and kicking. See for yourself:

telnet nightfall.org

and there it is. I was quite surprised to find that my old account and character are still there.

Back in the early nineties MUDding, was a de rigeur recreation for an undergraduate computer science major. I don’t care to think how many 3 AMs would find me still at a terminal in the computer lab, trying to get those just a few more points. The patterns of gaming haven’t changed that much over the years, even if the specifics have flashier graphics.

It’s very interesting to observe how much of a sense of place I still have for a world that exists only in textual form, and that I haven’t spend time exploring in well over a decade.

Novels are different; the details of navigation are brushed aside in the interests of telling a story. When interacting with the world of a MUD, your primary activity tends to be travelling from one point to another. I’m sure I still have the pages upon pages of maps that I drew as I explored Nightfall (and other MUDs, such as Ivory Tower): practical cartography for imaginary places. I remember the path from my house to the guildhall of the Seekers of Magic.

Like interactive fiction, MUDs are far from dead. They have been eclipsed by more elaborate successors, but some people always seem to prefer text to visuals.

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