Harley Hahn's
Guide to Muds

Chapter 5...

LPMuds, DikuMuds and TinyMuds

Most muds are based on one of three principal technologies. You certainly don't have to know the details of how they work, but I do want you to recognize the names, as you will see them a lot. The names of the three main mud-building technologies are LPMuds, DikuMuds and TinyMuds.

LPMuds are based on a computer language called LPC. LPC is designed to be easy to use by someone who understands programming, and LPMuds are readily customized. In fact, it is possible to add new features to an LPMud while it is running. For these reasons, it is common to find LPMuds that are constantly being enhanced.

With some LPMuds, there are two well-defined groups of people involved in a symbiotic relationship. One group spends time using the mud, while another group (who are not players) works on enlarging and modifying the mud. On an LPMud, anyone with permission can add new features to the mud. Indeed, in one sense, an LPMud can be thought of as an ongoing software project. On a well-run LPMud, the head administrator will coordinate the efforts of the individual creators to make sure that new features are in harmony with the overall mud environment.

The original LPC language was designed to create hack-n-slash muds. If you heard that a particular mud was an LPMud, you could guess what type of mud it was. In recent years, though, LPC has been redesigned into a general-purpose mud-creation language and, nowadays, virtually any type of mud might be an LPMud.

Dikumuds are adventure muds that involve a great deal of strategy and elaborate characterization (like you might find with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons). DikuMuds are usually written in the C programming language, not LPC, and, as such, are more difficult to customize. With many DikuMuds, you play the same game each time you log in. The idea, of course, is to master the game and all its intricacies.

TinyMuds are social muds. Although they offer an imaginary environment and make-believe characters, TinyMuds are almost always oriented toward talking and socializing. New TinyMuds are not programmed in a computer language. Rather, they are generated from a database system. The mud designer configures the database according to his or her preferences, and then uses a special program to read the specifications and generate the mud.

There are many different types of LPMuds, DikuMuds and TinyMuds, all with strange names. In most cases, the names don't tell you much. However, many types of TinyMuds have names that are short words beginning with the letter "M". So if you see a mud described as a MUCK, MUSH, MUSE, MAGE, MUG or MOO, you can guess it is a TinyMud, oriented toward socializing rather than action.

As a general rule (although there are exceptions):

  • LPMuds can be any type of mud and are often expandable.
  • DikuMuds are elaborate adventure muds that tend to stay the same.
  • TinyMuds are social muds.

What's in a Name?


LPMuds are named after Lars Pensjö, who created the original LPMud in 1989.

DikuMuds are named after the Datalogisk Institut Københavns Universitet (Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen), where the original DikuMud was created in 1990 by Katja Nyboe, Tom Madsen, Hans Henrik Staerfeldt, Michael Seifert and Sebastian Hammer.

TinyMuds were named by Jim Aspnes, who wrote the first such mud in 1989. He chose the name "Tiny" because his program was smaller and more manageable than other mud programs.