MUDS For The Blind
Thankfully, nowadays there are several audio games blind people can play. Most are single player, but if you’re ever interested in playing alongside other people multi user dungeons, or MUDS for short, are a type definitely worth giving a shot. I’d had heard about them for years, but had never tried one out until the end of March. They’re a lot of fun!
In this article I’d be glad to tell you about some popular MUDS out there, playing them over Alexa, Safari, an app called Mud Rammer, and VIP MUD for Windows.
Here’s information for the two I’ll focus on, so you can get to it quickly, later, for anyone interested. The number that comes after the site is the port number to connect to if you’re using a client.
MUDS are basically the World of Warcraft, in text form, of the early internet, back before the internet and computers could handle heavy programs like today. The general idea is, play a character you make, explore intricate and very imaginative worlds, fight monsters, make friends with people from all over. It’s basically a game and a chat room at the same time.
Different MUDS have different themes and styles of play, from medieval and fantasy to sci-fi, so chances are there’s one out there you’ll like. They work well with screen readers, since MUDS are text based games.
MUDS have been around since the late 70’s, and many that were started back in the 80’s and 90’s are still running strong today. Some even have hundreds of people online at any given time. I’ve encountered players several times who hadn’t logged on in years, but had come back to take a look around and see how things were. Sometimes life will interrupt, people will not log on for a while, but eventually decide they want to play again.
That’s actually one of the great features of MUDS: the ability for players to log on or off at their convenience. It can be a double edged sword when you’re on and everyone else seems to be elsewhere, but with the more built out MUDS there’s always the possibility of leveling up your character, by yourself. It’s just a lot more fun with other people. I guess it feels special knowing someone else was willing to lend you their time to play a game together, so there’s the social aspect.
When it comes to logging onto a MUD, there’s a couple of options. Most people probably play directly from their preferred web browser. Since most of the blind use iPhone I’ll start with that way first.
The main problem with trying to play on the iPhone, is whether you’re in Safari or using an app, it seems you have to place the cursor in the edit field every time you do or say something. That slows things down by a huge amount.
If the iPhone is your only computer for connecting to the internet, I’d recommend trying out Dungeon Adventure on Alexa, first.
I haven’t tried it out but there are demos on YouTube. Yeah, I’m probably the last blind person on earth not to have an Alexa, or google Home. I’m fairly certain you can’t interact with other people on Dungeon Adventure but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone eventually makes a MUD for Alexa.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of MUDS is spelling. If you spell something wrong, or phrase a command wrong, it doesn’t matter if you were on the right track or not, the game will return an invalid message. And then you even run into whether or not an English programmer made the MUD or another English speaking country, which has variants in spelling words.
Point being, with Dungeon Adventure on Alexa I’d bet it’s a lot more forgiving about that sort of thing. I’m sure it has mistakes as well, but Alexa allows more margin of error.
Another Safari work around, or other web browsing app
My favorite hack and slash MUD is Valhalla, as you’ll read below, but ww.achaea.com has a really good setup when it comes to playing over Safari. You won’t have to type some things into the entry box, and can just click on a link provided.
Below in this article, there’s a list of some of popular ones, but I first want to recommend a great one to start with. Valhalla is a really good MUD, loads very fast, and has a helpful community of players. They also have a Discord channel if you get stuck.
Their server connection is -
Now, you know this was one of the earliest MUDS when they have a cool domain name like Valhalla. Another good reason to at least start with them is they don’t choke you to death with introductory material. With some of the other MUDS, it’s like having to read an entire novel before you can do anything. Call me immature but that gets boring.
Valhalla gives a good balance in the amount of time for you to practice and learn what your options are. One of your items is a handbook for the character class you play, such as fighter, mage, etc. There’s a newbie guide that you can consult, or the help file as much or little as you need. There’s also some newbie quests, so you learn the mechanics of the game like how to buy food, eat, etc. while you’re playing. If you’re wondering what a newbie is, you’ll be one when you log on for the first couple of times. lol
MUD Rammer App
For iPhone your options are either using Safari, or another web browser, or using the free MUD Rammer app to connect to MUDS. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s more apps for MUDS out there. I tested those two ways of connecting, but prefer using a desktop client on Windows since I can navigate that way quickest. Here’s the Apple VIS entry for Mud Rammer. It has a link to the app page in the app store in case you want to try it. If after trying it out for a while, you still have questions, there might be some help on this other page. Here’s a link to somebody’s page that has helpful links to information on MUD Rammer, I think it’s the developer; but regardless there are links to forums and posts answering questions about the app.
VIP MUD Client
VIP MUD is a Windows program, created by GMA Games, to play MUDS on using a screen reader. Here’s a link to the GMA downloads page. There’s other audio based games on there too, which you can preview for free. Some are completely free.
If you don’t mind me going off topic here for a second Shades Of Doom is quite remarkable. It’s a first person shooter similar to Doom, but what really impressed me was the use of surround sound for a 3D environment. If you hear something coming from the left speaker, you can turn your character to face that direction. I mean, as blind people we pretty much use that in real life so it’s what we’re used to in real life, minus battling mutant monsters, but I don’t know of any other game that does that. I’m sure they’re out there, but just mean to say it’s less likely than likely. A couple of guys uploaded the gameplay on YouTube if you’re curious to hear a Shades of Doom walkthrough. They’re easy to find if you do a YouTube search. Back to MUDS though…
VIP MUD is a great program, and excellent to get started with MUDS on. Once you download the client, and run it, it takes you straight to Valhalla. Just press enter when you hear the Fred server for Valhalla.
A screen will load telling about the game. You have to create a name for a character, so I’d recommend thinking a few seconds to decide before entering to connect. The connection closes if there’s no activity within a certain number of seconds. I’m guessing it’s to prevent bots, or abuse of the system, since pretty much all MUDS have this safe guard. If you forget, and get kicked off, it’s no problem. Just enter again, to reconnect.
I like VIP MUD because it’s really easy to use. You’ve got the entry box where you type in what your character does or says, and the output box which displays what’s going on in the world around you. If you miss anything, you can easily tab to the output box, and arrow up to read the line again or look for specific details.
For example, if you were listening to instructions for a quest, but someone enter the room with you, and it interrupts what is being said, you can easily tab, and arrow up to read again. If someone has a really strange name, it’s just quicker to copy and paste their name if you are typing a command, like “look Jesper Grip”. I’ll give a couple of helpful tips at the end of this article, but first…
Other notable MUDS
This list really could be long, and I’m sure there are a ton I’ve never even heard of that are great, but I’ll just mention a few I’ve tried and are still around. Mud Connecter is a good site to search for something you’re looking for by the way. You can search on there for any particular genre, or style of game you’re looking for, or look at the list of most popular MUDS. There’s other sites too. Some sites them don’t update very often and aren’t accurate on stats. I’ve read several complaints from all over. Also, pretty much every MUD has a handful of troublemakers at one time or another, and people bashing them online so I wouldn’t recommend allowing obscure anonymous rants sway you about a MUD. Anybody could have written a complaint. What they’re talking about might have happened ten years ago, and the issues already addressed. Since there’s always going to be trouble makers it’s unfair to prejudge.
Here’s the names of a couple I’ve tried, in alphabetical order and with a brief description…
Aardwolf is good, and even has an extensive Youtube playlist here that will walk you through how to get started.
Achaea is good and seems pretty elaborate.
Alter Aeon is pretty good. I like their friends list feature. It shows what your friends have been up to lately, like leveling up etc.
Carrion Fields is pretty cool, has a well-made site and help files for new people.
coffee mud is good. The guy who made it also put out an engine and guide here to build your own mud if you have the time and computer skills to do it.
If you ever are interested in that I recommend joining the MUD Maker’s Guild on Discord. There’s a lot of people in there who swap info and help each other out. Here’s a link to Andrew Zigler’s blog, the guy who formed the MUD Maker’s Guild. They also have a Slack group if you prefer that application.
The Inquisition: Legacy, is another really good MUD. The other MUDS can’t be summed up with just one blurb, but I want to highlight this one as well, because one I like it and two it has several qualities that it deserves attention for. There’s a paragraph in this article below.
Sindome is a futuristic setting, and kinda dark but is interesting. I noticed some allusions in this game to a sci-fi book that happens to be on BARD called Burning Chrome. Burning Chrome also influenced the writers of the Matrix movie series.
new.vampire-wars.com 6666 is an interesting player versus player based MUD. I haven’t had time to check this one out much yet, but it seems pretty interesting. I mean, you get to be a vampire, who wouldn’t?
There are also several Star Trek and Star Wars MUDS out there. The Jedi Strikes Back is on the list of quick connect options of VIP MUD.
If you prefer a different one, or Star Trek Just Google search or use MUD connect to find out the address and port number to use. Sometimes a server might go down so a MUD might be temporarily unavailable. From my limited experience this doesn’t seem to happen very often.
One practice I wish wasn’t implemented on any MUD is called a hot reboot. It’s kinda like on that movie the Matrix when they made changes while people are in it. Updating world changes while players are connected can bring the entire game down temporarily, and the changes might not be saved correctly. I guess there’s not much way of updating though, without that happening, unless you boot everyone off first. Maybe regularly scheduled maintenance events could be put on a calendar so people know not to try and login at those times. I just mention it because a lot of them do hot reboots I think it’s called.
Sometimes a site that lists the name of a MUD to connect to will just throw out seemingly random numbers. That might be the port you’ll need to connect to, if using a MUD client. These numbers can range from several thousand, like 3000 or 5000, or can even be as small as just 23. Usually, the number is located beside the dot com address to the site. A lot of them are moving towards gameplay straight from their website though, so players don’t have to use a client to connect.
Most of the ones listed above are set in medieval times, but there’s enough sci-fi or futuristic ones out there to find any type you like.
The Inquisition: Legacy
Before I wrap up with some tricks and tips on Valhalla, The Inquisition: Legacy absolutely deserves a few notes. Even if you don’t like hack and slash type games where you battle monsters, you still might like this MUD. I might write up a whole article on it, but this is the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s a heavily focused role-play game set in an alternate world, where magic is real, and there’s an inquisition against users of magic. What an awesome story setting! Especially if you were a Final Fantasy Tactics fan, years ago.
One tip that might help is to allow the game to randomly make your character. That way you don’t invest a lot of time and then later realize you’re going to change things anyway. At character creation you can choose whether or not your character has magical abilities or not. There’s also an option to roll randomly for it. I’d recommend starting with a regular character, unless you’re very experienced playing MUDS before playing a magic using character. The game is already very intricate, and has a lot of features, and a lot of commands to learn.
Character creation is very detailed. Combat is optional. The players are all very helpful, and there are tons of help files to show you how to do things.
You can play a noble, magic user, or regular person, and there are a couple of job classes too like reeve, priest, etc. The players an guilds literally run the world, and make decisions that affect gameplay for everyone else so it’s pretty neat. You can create and/or sell items, real estate and ships.
The map is a lot of fun to explore by itself, centered on a city called Lithmore. Room descriptions are novel quality scenes.
I’ve been very surprised at how well the players role-play their characters on here. This is definitely the best MUD for RP on the internet.
This MUD has several, but just a couple of features that aren’t in most other MUDS are the abilities to create, sell, or trade rumors and knowledge of secret locations. Another is the ability to change mood descriptions for rooms temporarily. For example, if your character was smoking a pipe in the library, you could write a mood for the room that would be posted a couple of days saying “the sweet smell of champagne flavored tobacco permeates this room.” It would show up after the regular room description, but wouldn’t permanently change the room.
Another good thing The Inquisition: Legacy has is a forum where players can submit posts about helpful tips, ideas, etc.
Like other games, a lot of MUDS have a Discord server, for hanging out, coordinating or asking questions on. There’s even a MUD Coders Guild, which I highly recommend if you ever want to learn to make MUDS.
VIP MUD and Valhalla Tips
Ok, so back to Valhalla. One of the reasons I like Valhalla is they usually keep their room descriptions short and sweet. Eventually, you won’t want to hear some room descriptions over and over again though because you’re familiar. To just hear the title of the room type
This turns on brief mode. You can just as easily turn it back off when you get somewhere new and need to hear more details again. Sometimes clues are in the room description, so it’s best to toggle back and forth as necessary.
If you hear a string of text after each notification, you’ll want to type
To clear that out. You’ll know it if you hear it. Basically, every time something happens there will be a string of gibberish afterward that contributes in no way to the game, except to annoy.
This MUD actually allows you to turn that off. Some don’t. As a screen reader user, I appreciate lowering verbosity.
You definitely want to buy a dictionary, unless you like typing out “open door” hundreds of times. Once you type “claim dictionary” you can just type
and hit enter, for example to “open north door”. Here’s how you could make your first alias. It’s a rinse and repeat type system:
alias od open door
That’s it. You could literally copy that line and paste it into VIP MUD. You won’t just be able to get away with that one though, because naturally, there are rooms with more than one door in them. You might accidentally open the wrong one. Most of the time you can just use it though.
alias df drink fountain
Is a good one to have too, and even works on the obelisk fountain in the middle of Midgaard.
alias qj quaff jug
Is absolutely essential if you don’t want to die. There’s a jug of healing near Farmer Barnham’s house if you dig around, but I don’t want to spoil too much about the game. You won’t have to go far or look hard to find it.
Having an adventure party is most ideal, if you don’t want to die, but sometimes there might not be people online who can join up with you. Valhalla allows you to have one other backup character loaded at the same time. I’m sure you can already think of several reasons why that can come in handy, so now I’ll recommend a couple of classes. Everybody’s different though so knock yourself out if you prefer something else.
From my experience the thief and the healer classes are the most practical. When you’re a thief you can pretty much pick any chest or locked door eventually; and with the healer, curing wounds really comes in handy during battles.
The thief also has access to neat skills like pick pocket for when you’re low on coins, or butcher, if you need to harvest food.
If you type follow and the name of the person your 2nd character will automatically follow you around. You can also group character so experience is shared whenever you fight monsters.
A lot of times I’ll have things typed into the entry box for my 2nd character to do, so I can just hit enter. Like cure wounds on so and so; because I know he’s leader of the group and about to get mauled.
Easy XP Harvesting
The easiest way to get experience in game, and level up, is to complete quests. Sometimes that can take a while as you learn the map. One way you can gain XP is to create a healer character, and have them follow your main character around as you constantly battle monsters. This will save a lot of time and money going to get healing potions.
Ok, last tip, but this one will pay you a lot in game. When you’re at the obelisk fountain at the middle of Midgaard, if you walk south one room, and then west one time there’s a janitor’s closet.
You’ll see janitors occasionally walking around town cleaning up. They pick up some items that can be sold for coins. All of the discarded stuff in Midgaard ends up in this closet. There’s anything from food to weapons or armor in here. Stuff eventually disappears if nobody gets it.
Rune marked capes sell at the colosseum armor smith for like five gold pieces. Silver robes can be sold at the Iron Mongers, on main street, for a couple copper pieces. By the way, speaking of colosseum, it’s a fun place to fight your friends without it counting against you.
Checking the donation rooms at temples like Udgaard occasionally, is a good idea too since the higher level players are kind enough to drop stuff there.
Ok folks, hope that was helpful and/or entertaining. If you don’t use a screen reader or are using Safari, you can go straight to Valhalla by typing in the address bar
If you’ve read this far and want to hear a funny story, here’s one about me and a misadventuring party. Mis-advneturing because we do crazy stuff.