Joshua Cantrell's Programming Experience WWW Page
My first UNIX experience with MUDs
Most of my UNIX related programming came from my interest in making my own MUD.
Previously, I had been programming under MS-DOS using assembly language and
When I was first introduced to MUDs I was going to MUD Pathetique (now
Zee MUD). After I was there for about a half a year someone announced that
they were going to make "their" own MUD. My brother and I decided to take
a look at it and found out he was running Circle MUD v2.2.
We had found that the MUDs we had gone to lacked many features that text
adventures, such as many Infocom games -- Beyond Zork, Planetfall,
Stationfall, etc. --, had, so we took it upon ourselves to update our own
Circle MUD v2.2. The reason we started with Circle MUD was that we had
no knowledge of how to program communication over the internet, so we
started our attempt at reprogramming the MUD. A friend we had made at the
previous MUD helped give us some suggestions since we shared a similar vision
of what MUDs should be like.
After a few months, it became evident that we would have to completely
overhall and rewrite the Circle MUD code to do what we wanted
(not worth the copyright placed upon it), so we gave up the project and
started a new one...
The MUD from scratch
My brother worked on producing a language parser that would work similar to
Infocom's games, while I tried to find out how the program communicated over
My first method to find this out was to cut out all of the
code from Circle until I only had the code that did one thing:
allowed multiple people to connect and echo what was said to everyone
connected. I did this by finding out what every function did by using the
on-line manual pages (man pages) in UNIX.
Functions that did not seem to do anything were removed and I reduced the code
to one file. For my first attempt at writing my own MUD with my brother's
first parser, I used this code and tried to make the rooms based on a text
database similar to Circle. Soon I found that the parser (which was a C++
class) was hard to work with and decided to wait until my brother could
develop a better parser class.
The Experimental Graphical MUD's Beginning
While my brother worked on a new parser, I decided to work on the design for
a new type of MUD where everything would have size (rooms, animals, objects,
etc.). I spent time racking my brain over how I was going to make doorways
have size and other trivial things. This didn't help me go very far, but it
did make me think about graphical type MUDs.
I also bought
Using C on the UNIX System
by David A. Curry to help me produce a better networking C++ class for
my brother to use, since he was going to try making his own MUD. Another
reason why I bought it was from curiosity about how to spawn jobs to run
in the background (I wrote a simple tester that detects when a program
crashes and saves the most recent message sent to it as a debugging tool).
While I was doing this I remembered a MUD I had visited previously called
(now it's moved to all graphics) that had an ASCII text top down view of
things. I found information on ANSI and VT100 escape sequences by posting
on USENET, and needed to find some information on how to communicate with
telnet. I wanted to tell telnet not to echo (eg., a password). I asked Demon
of Empires MUD and he directed me to the TMI2 MUD. I
posted on USENET, and at about the same time as I received some useful
information from someone at TMI2, I also received some useful information
from USENET regarding the ARPA standard for telnet. With these tools I
wrote an ASCII graphical program to model lighting in a 3D block world,
where I stopped once more, this time because of the lack of time left
to me from returning to school at the end of Summer Vacation.
Another reason for my trouble with finding time to program my own MUD came
from my interest in helping Empires MUD become a great MUD. It had
many elements that I liked, for example the ASCII text top-down view that moved
around with you on ANSI or VT100 mode, and administrators that seemed to be
friendly (they had already tried to help with one of my own programming
problems). Loranar advanced me to a Wizard to be a part of the team (at
the time I was the last non-wizard player who hadn't been deleted from lack
I worked hard to learn how to use the MUD-OS programming language. I made
some test rooms and soon started working on the town of Sukara. As school
became tougher, I decreased in my frequency, yet tried not to fail with
visiting at least once a week.
The start of the next semester showed a regained energy to build
the MUD amongst the administrators, and I improved and built more on Sukara
as I had time to. As school began to overwhelm me again, I was forced to limit
my activity again and could only visit at about once a day with programming
as time allowed. While I was trying to rewrite some of their code regarding
combat, on about February 16, 1996, I found that the MUD had closed its doors
to everyone but administrators. This marked the end of my work at
Empires MUD. Although I waited for about a month, they had not kept in
contact with me, so I came to the decision that I'd rather work on my own
project, instead of a project that I can be forcefully separated from.
X Windows and a New Approach
While I was working with empires, they had started to design their graphical
client for MS Windows. Because I was now doing most of my work under UNIX and
X Windows, I started to look into ways of programming a client for X Windows.
After searching for legible code to help me find out how to use pseudo color,
I gave up and bought O'Reilly & Associates'
Volume 1: Xlib Programming Manual by Adrian Nye. Although this book
doesn't show examples for everything, with its help I was able to find out
how to use pseudo color (which it warns against using) and better understand
other code that I read. I was on a roll, and made an X Window's C++ class
and another class for loading Windows BMP graphic files (that's what Empires
MUD was using). These C++ classes helped give me a basis for using X Windows
as a graphical environment for my programming. (NOTE: I no longer wish to
write a client for Empires MUD because I'm holding a grudge against them. *8^P)
Now I'm currently updating and upgrading my X Windows class to handle buttons,
terminal windows, dialog boxes, and other necessities that X Windows leaves
for the programmer to invent (I haven't found any widgets or code to copy
that is good enough for my use, except what comes out of the book I bought).
This is where my experience ends (more or less depending on how old this
WWW page gets).