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By Dallas Jones and William Darling.
A MUD (Multiple User Dimension, Multiple User Dungeon, or Multiple User Dialogue) is a computer program which users can log into and explore. Each user takes control of a computerized persona / avatar / incarnation / character. You can walk around, chat with other characters, explore dangerous monster-infested areas, solve puzzles, and even create your very own rooms, descriptions and items.
There are many different types of MUDs. The Tiny- and Teeny- family of MUDs are usually more social in orientation. The players on these types of MUDs tend to chat, meet friends, make jokes, and discuss various topics.
The LP- family of MUDs, including Diku and AberMUD, are usually based on roleplaying adventure games. The players on these MUDs tend to run around either alone or in groups, killing monsters, solving puzzles, and gaining experience in their quests to become wizards.
There are other types of MUDs, and each type has its own unique style. Players are rarely limited to one type of playing - there's no rule that says an LPMUD must be a combat-oriented MUD, or that a TinyMUSH must not be a combat-oriented MUD. The subjects and settings for MUDs are potentially limitless.
The first MOO was created in 1990, by a Student of the University of Waterloo. MOO is an acronym for Multi-user-dungeon Object Oriented. MOOs are fully interactive societies in which you can role play, or project your real self, as you wish. Much real life education can be found on MOO systems, as can many real life friends. Its most common use is as a multi-participant, virtual reality adventure game with players from all over the world. You can not only interact with the people there, but you can also build a home, create pets and other objects, and code / program new items. There is a huge range of things you can do on MOOs, including social games - most have scrabble, chess, twister, and more.
There are a few types of MOOs, but basically in MOOs there is a strong bias towards in-depth role-playing. MOOs use an internal programming language, similar C, where players can create objects and programs within the game. In order to participate in a MOO, you must have an E-mail address, and to continue your character's progression, you must log on with a password.
MUD is a broader category that encompasses MOOs, MUSHes (Multiple User Shared Hallucination), etc. The term MUD also denotes the earliest multi-user environment programming languages. Early MUDs fairly limited; however, today's MOOs are completely programmable virtual worlds where each object you encounter can be programmed for interaction.
For MUDs, check out The MUD Resource Collection. If you would like additional information about MOOs, try Chris' MOO Page. For an excellent resource discussing frequently asked questions about MUDs, MOOs, and MUSHes, as well as telnet links to active MUDs/MOOs, go to the Multi-User Dungeons page.
Sylvie McClelland has a MUD you may be interested in seeing.