A Pachyderm Was Born...
In March 1993, Stress came to see me, with 'an idea.' He too had been an Uglymug player, and had also been narked by a few things. In his case I think it was mainly the vortex, a super teleport system for mortals that he had written. One of the Wizards didn't like it and vaped it. Anyway, he comes to see me and asks if I was still thinking of setting up a mud, as he had a copy of some source code, and wondered if I wanted to help. Run a mud ourselves? Heck, what do you think I said :)

The only trouble though was that it was a DikuMud source. Dikus are a little like Uglymug but with a combat system and more emphasis on rôle-play. I wanted an LPMud; if we were going to have combat, I felt we should do it properly but Stress was the one with the code and I didn't know where to get any LP source, so I got involved.

Things were fine at first, but soon we hit two problems, a technical one and a philosophical one.

The Technical Problem

Destroyed objects didn't vanish and so slowly filled up the database. A bug in the version we had meant that such objects didn't get 'garbage-collected' (to use the terminology).

The Philosophical Problem

Stress wanted to base the mud on the Imperial College Union! Argh! At this point I began to pull gently back from the project, and dropped back on to Pixie and mailed my mentor, Chrysis, as to whether she knew where I could get any LPMud source.

Incidentally, it was at around this time that I met Holborn, or Davie as he was known then. I was going to make him my apprentice on Ugly until events overtook us. It was through him that I was to meet Havoc, Rohan, Cc and many of the other people who were to become the core of the Ele players in the early days.

A few days later, Chrysis got back to me. She had asked her other half, Bellem, and he had forwarded to me a site where I could find the source for the latest brand of LPMud, which was rather grandiosely called MudOS.

Now back then, UNIX and I had a sort of laissez-faire relationship. We knew each other and were even on speaking terms. If I was good it didn't delete my files. I used it mainly for C and interneting, although inevitably I'd picked up a reasonable amount of knowledge. Actually to be honest I knew UNIX fairly well for an Elec Eng student, but the thought of compiling a mud under it was scary, so I turned to a friend who used to be on my course and who went by the (rather sweet-orientated) name of Refresher. Refresher by this point had relocated to Manchester, but I still spoke to him a fair bit on Ugly.

With Refresher's help I got underway. It was now early April 1993, and I was to spend about a week toying with makefiles, options, trying to outwit my disk quota (I'll tell you later), and fixing the bugs that were rather prolific in the early MudOS makefiles. But with a lot of help from Refresher, we got it to a vaguely compiled state. All we needed now was a Mudlib! At this point Eldrytch, the guitarist in our band, my flatmate, fellow Elec Eng student and erstwhile mudder got involved in the project too.

So off I set in search of a public domain mudlib. Now it's possible to write one from scratch, but it's a very long and involved process, and I really didn't feel up to it. So I wanted to piggy back off someone else's work, and pretty soon I had the options down to two.

The TMI-II Mudlib

This was a serious development mudlib, and was much more in the style that I was used from Pixie. I liked it, but it had no players as such and so would be a gamble.

The Nightmare 2.0 Mudlib

At least I think it was 2.0. It may have been 2.(small number). This wasn't quite so much my style, but was an 'active' mud, full of players and had colour too. I spoke to some of the players, ran about for a bit myself hacking things and had a brief chat with a couple of the Admin.

In the end, I decided the best thing to do was to use Nightmare, but with the intention of some heavy modifications. Every mud claims to be 'all new', but Ele is one of the few that can honestly claim to be so. Virtually every mudlib object has been rewritten from scratch, the way bits of code interact with each other has been redesigned, and the whole basis of the skills, stats and combat code had a line drawn through it and was redone completely. Some parts of the mud look like Nightmare. This is because we have always preferred to change the feel of the Mud in preference to the look. But there again, apart from the centre of town, and the fact that your character has skills, there isn't THAT much that does.

It was 5:20am on the 17th of April 1993 that Elephant Mud had the first person on. I was sitting in the Mac (arrgh) room at the University of Surrey (where my girlfriend studied) having decided to stay up all night and get the thing working. Refresher had been lending long distance assistance, but had logged off at about 4am. Thus the next person onto the mud, the first player EVER on Ele, was 'Virus'. And it was from him that I got my first ever bug report. 'Oi' he said, 'I don't want to be male or female! I'm a virus!' Sheesh!

Soon word had spread and people such as Holborn, Rohan, Havoc, Alluveai, Miss_Informed, and Cc began wandering the Mud. Rohan, Havoc and Cc have long argued about which of them was actually the first after Virus and Holborn, but to be honest I don't remember, as they were all on within minutes of each other. These were halcyon days for Ele. We had a mud of our own! We had a LP/Mudos mud with no lag! We had complete control over what we wanted to do! We had very little idea what we were doing! Ahh, bliss :)

Thinking back to it now, I recall that there was some agonising over what to call the mud. I favoured Elephant Mud, but also I wanted something that could be easily abbreviated (eg 'pixie', 'ugly'). A few other suggestions were mooted, but as soon as I realised that it abbreviated nicely to 'Ele' or 'Elemud' it was settled! Finally I had a name and I had a site:

Elephant Mud: telnet volt.ee.ic.ac.uk 4444

However, there were problems brewing on the horizon, and Ele was perhaps lucky to live to see its first birthday.

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