Social artifacts and digital curiosities

What small towns and niche internet communities have in common

In the last month, I’ve made continued progress on Pinwheel, my MUD game engine. In fact, there are only a few remaining elements of the core source code remaining before I feel ready to start building my developmental game world. In the course of refactoring and building this engine, I’ve cycled through many different themes for a game I could potentially build with it. I’ve tried not to let those themes steer my designs too heavily, with the goal of making a universal engine that can be molded easily to fit different themes. Some MUD engines come with stock content to showcase how the code could be adapted, but often times this content feels prescriptive and can get in the way of other ideas.

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MUD Cookbook: design meets implementation

Lately, I’ve had a laser focus that’s consumed me in my latest project, Pinwheel: a fork of Ranvier, a MUD engine in JavaScript. This fork started as a question: can I add a web server to a MUD engine? The answer—which I found out pretty quickly—is yes. With that done, I turned my attention to the rest of the code. I started to rip things out and move them around. Even after weeks of tinkering with it, I’m genuinely fascinated by how this stranger’s software works. Reorganizing the blocks bit by bit, rewriting some parts entirely… all of it is rewarding. The silent reflection of teaching yourself another person’s code is oddly zen-inducing.

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Like minds that like MUDs

In a recent post, I made the case for MUDs in modern times which explored the niche that MUDs occupy on the internet. As a longtime player of MUDs, I started learning to code in order to tinker with downloaded codebases, trying endlessly to run ancient makefiles and compile spaghetti code hobbled together by lots of strangers on SourceForge. It was fun, but hardly effective!

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I finished my Udacity Mobile Web Specialist Nanodegree

I’ve just finished my Mobile Web Specialist course after completing my final project. I covered a lot of ground between the first project and the third one, including transforming a website into a performant offline-first web app. Each project stage was professionally evaluted and I received a line-by-line code review of my work, which wa really helpful for getting useful feedback. I managed to zip through the stages pretty quickly, because I had completed most of the lessons already through my scholarship program (all of the lessons in the Nanodegree are available for free). The course runs until the end of October but I’m now finished two months early.

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The case for MUDs in modern times

In the age of smart devices and instant entertainment, can a medium as old as MUDs survive? Driven entirely by text, these Multi-User Dimensions ― or Dungeons, or Domains, or so many other options that they’re often called MU* ― are virtual worlds that consist entirely of text. Often outfitted as RPG-style games, these platforms are also home to niche internet communities on the fringes of the web. The servers are accessed via a telnet client, which is easy enough to launch in a command line. But there are a few popular applications that many longtime players opt to use. They’re rather reminiscent of the various chat programs built up around the IRC protocol, and provide simple functionality like logging, colors, aliases, triggers, timers, and even mapping.

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