Harley Hahn's
Guide to Muds

Chapter 3...

Mud Clients

All Internet services are based on what is called a client/server system. In order to access an Internet service, you run a client program on your computer. Your client contacts a server program on a remote computer in order to request the service.

For example, to access a Web page, you use a browser (your client) to contact a Web server (the server). To check your mail, you use a mail program (your client) to contact your mail server (the server).

When a client contacts a server, they communicate by sending information back and forth. That information is sent according to a particular protocol. Each type of Internet service has its own protocol.

On the Web, the most common protocol is called HTTP or "Hypertext Transfer Protocol". (This is why Web addresses start with the prefix "http".) With email, the most common protocol is called POP or "Post Office Protocol".

Why am I explaining all of this? Because, in order to access a mud, you use a client/server system, so I want you to understand it. The client you use is called a mud client, while the server is the mud itself: a complex program that runs on a remote computer. The protocol used by a mud client to communicate with a mud is called telnet.

When the Internet was developed, telnet was the very first protocol. The original purpose of telnet was to allow researchers at one university to work with remote computers at another university. In order to use a remote computer, a researcher with an Internet facility would use telnet to connect to the computer. He would then enter a user name and password. Once this was processed, the researcher would be able to work with that computer remotely.

Today, you will see some similarities when you use a mud. You start by having your mud client connect to the remote computer on which the mud resides. You then enter a user name and password. Once these are verified, you use the telnet connection to interact with the mud. You type commands, and the mud sends messages back to your computer, where they are displayed on your screen by your mud client.

Thus, the first step in using a mud is to get yourself a mud client and learn how to use it. There are good mud clients available for free on the Net, and you will find information about them at the end of this guide in the section entitled "Mud Resources on the Internet".

The following picture shows a typical mud client. Notice the separate typing area at the bottom of the window. As you type, the characters are displayed in this typing area, and nothing is sent until you press the Enter key. The output from the mud is displayed separately in the larger area above.

Figure 3-1: A typical mud client
(To see an enlarged view, click on the picture.)