MUDs and Multimedia
MUDs are social environments, where people meet and interact. This is an aspect
which is currently lacking in many multimedia applications, or which is still a
very experimental facility. It is not needed to see your correspondent
or to hear his or her voice, in many situations. Teleconferencing can also be
handled in a text-only fashion without lack of comprehensibility. Add graphics
to this text-based conference, and one gets very close to the necessary aspects
of this kind of contact.
The following aspects are all part on the MUD-world, and can easily be added to
Multimedia (or rather, be integrated with Multimedia applications):
- Interactive contact with correspondents
MUDs make it possible for users to chat and to exchange information in
a way which is close to the Unix talk facility, but which allows more
people to participate together, in a conference-alike fashion. The
feel of MUD-based conversation is also closer to a virtual reality in
which the users can identify themselves with the virtual character
they are using.
- Mail and bulletin boards
Almost all MUDs implement some kind of mail system and bulletin boards
to exchange information. This information exchange is integrated in
the virtual world, which makes it alot more consistent. The users
will not be bothered with details like mail-programs, netnews-readers,
and all those other networking applications which allow information
- Everything together at the same time
The real added functionality which MUDs can offer is the combination
of all these new aspects at the same time. How often do people manage
to find information on World Wide Web in a very short time? Not
often. And if it is information one never found before, often the
solution is to ask someone else! That means mailing someone, asking
in person, ... MUDs allow users to be browsing information and at
the same time to send a message to another user to ask for more
Multimedia is (like the name points out) a field in which several media types
get combined. MUDs on the other hand are usually limited to text. There have
been attempts to add graphics to the game, but this has failed badly, either
because of the bad graphics used, or because of technical issues.
What is possible?
- Adding graphics
It is possible to add graphics to MUDs using Multimedia principles.
This can be done either using a server which sends the appropriate
images, or by using a specific client which contains all picture
elements needed to compose the images.
- Providing better user interfaces
The user interface is an important part of a MUD. After all, the
users are confronted with it all the time. It should be flexible and
easy to use, and powerful enough. The MUD community lacks good
graphical user interfaces, and Multimedia has interfaces which can be
used. An extended version of HTML/HTTP would work well (there is
server-initiated communication needed, which is not possible with the
current HTML/HTTP software).
- More media-types to enhance the MUD world
Currently MUDs use text only. But one could add graphics, sound, even
motion pictures. It has already been proven that many multimedia
applications and technologies can be implemented in various
- MUDs are networking applications
One of the problems is that network bandwidth is limited. If one
wants to use fancy graphics that also means that more data is to be
sent over the network. If 50 people from the US are playing a
graphical mud in Europe, it may be undesirable or even unrealistic
to send a whole image 50 times over the international links.
- MUDs are realtime applications
When playing a MUD, the user wants fast response, because the world he
or she is playing in evolves in realtime. That means that network
delays need to be limited, and the server should be able to give a
fast response to everyone.
- Multimedia is (currently) limited
Most of the time, the multimedia applications have been designed for a
limited use. Conferencing tools may cover groups of 20 or more
people, but not often 100 or more. Other applications don't even
have a multiuser aspect. And the technology used for a single-user
application may often turn out to be inadequate for multiuser use.
See the discussion of WWW and MUDs.
Last modified: Jul 23rd, 1999
©1995-2000 by Aedil