The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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The Game Archaeologist: How DikuMUD shaped modern MMOs

Even though there are hundreds and thousands of MMOs spanning several decades, only a small handful were so incredibly influential that they changed the course of development for games from then on out. DikuMUD is one of these games, and it is responsible for more of what you experience in your current MMOs than you even know.

Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone knows what DikuMUD is or how it shaped the MMOs that came out after it. You might have seen it used as a pejorative in enough comments that you know it is loathed by many gamers, but I find that there are varying degrees of ignorance about DikuMUD in the community. What is it, exactly? Why is it just the worst? And is it really the worst if we like the games that can point to this text-based MMO as a key ancestor?

Today we’re going to dispel the mystery and myths of DikuMUD to lay it out there as it was and is today.

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How starving in Crowfall can turn you into a ‘chicken’

Food in MMORPGs usually exists to provide luxury buffs for characters heading into raids, but for Crowfall it will be present to keep players from becoming chickens.

According to a dev blog on the new food system, characters will need to eat somewhat regularly in the game to keep their food meter high. The meter is depleted over time and through actions such as jumping and taking damage. If it dips below 70%, players activate what the studio is calling the “chicken ticker” and start incurring negative penalties like having regeneration switch off and health start to drain away.

“The eventual goal of this system is to add some survival elements and make the act of finding, creating, and eating food meaningful,” ArtCraft noted. “Food mechanics have been in online games for a long time — even DikuMUD had them.”

The food system is coming to the test servers this week, and there’s an exciting, edge-of-your-seat video of a character eating in Crowfall after the jump. What are you waiting for?

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