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
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.
In the beginning |
The pre-Ele days |
A pachyderm is born! | Ele goes legal |
Disaster strikes | Middlesex Uni |
Back to IC | IC politics |