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BatMUD

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Batclient
Batmud boxed-v161
Developer(s) B.A.T. ry
Publisher(s) B.A.T. ry
Designer(s) Antti Luostarinen

Niklas Lindroos

Engine Mythicscape
Version 1.91, 2009-04-02
Platform(s) Windows Macintosh Linux JVM
Release date(s) December 28, 2006
Genre(s) Fantasy MUD
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Rating(s) n/a
Media Download
System requirements Java 1.5 minimum
Input methods Keyboard, Mouse


BatMUD is an active medieval fantasy MUD with a large playerbase, established in 1990. BatMUD is Finland-based and operated and owned by an organisation, Balanced Alternative Techniques ry ry ("B.A.T. ry"), a non-profit organization, officially registered 1994 in Helsinki, Finland.[1].

By 2006, over 100,000 players had frequented the game, making it one of the largest text-based multiplayer games on the Internet. In the beginning of 2008, it had over 30,000 subscriptions.

History, Legal and DevelopmentEdit

BatMUD was one of the first LPMuds and has been online with only one break, in 1996 when it was extensively recoded, including addition of an extensive outerworld,[2] since 12 April 1990[3]. The game was initially set-up by a wizard (a term used to describe some of the world-building staff of a MUD) who named Jaf, followed by many volunteer coders, all becoming wizards in the process. It is said, that the name of BatMUD originates from the name of the server the game was initiated on (batman.cs.hut.fi). Since then, BatMUD has relocated servers several times, at one point residing in Oulu, Finland. As of November 2007, the main BatMUD servers are co-located in the two data centers of Nebula in Helsinki, Finland.

Despite its phenomenal age as an Internet community, the MUD is constantly evolving which makes it both challenging and entertaining to new and old players alike. Due to the rich set of features, BatMUD may be a bit overwhelming for a newbie, but more experienced players often help if asked politely, and registered newbie helpers are available to guide fresh players.

Like most other active MUDs, BatMUD is also constantly developed. Over the years there have been over 200 coders contributing to the codebase. It is expected on BatMUD that a coder will actively work on development of the MUD, with newcomers who have not been productive enough being periodically purged. All coders agree to an intellectual property rights agreement in order to secure the legal-aspects of the modern day world, even though coding is done volunteer-based.

Notable (external) events, timelineEdit

In September 1994, the organization Balanced Alternative Techniques ry was officially registered in the "Joint corporate information system of the National Board of Patents and Registration and the Tax Administration"[4] of Finland. The game was also previewd in Pelit-magazine and was highly praised from its rich set of features while scoring over 90/100 points[5].

In 1996, BatMUD received the Finnish Oiva award, and the game has also been prominently featured in many mainstream computer gaming magazines, such as the Pelit-magazine.

B.A.T. ry received a Business ID from the Finnish tax authorities (by own request) and was entered into the tax prepayment register in May 2002. This was preceded by a major overhaul (of 1999-2002), during which the B.A.T. ry slowly re-organized itself to become a more effective and productive organization - responding to the professionalism required in running the larger legal entity which B.A.T. ry had become.

Through the years, BatMUD has also been voted "Game of the month" by several Internet gaming-sites, such as MPOGD.com[6] in April, 2003.

In 2004, B.A.T. ry applied for the BatMUD(tm) Trade Mark and BatMUD was registered as a Trade Mark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office[7] in April 5, 2005. Also, a 91-page Pro graduation thesis emerges from the University of Lapland, themed "Artificial Intelligence in text-based computer games' dramaturgy. Study subjects: Nethack and BatMUD"[8], Audiovisual Mediaculture written by Jussi Huhtala (in Finnish).

BatMUD turned 15 in 2005, thus an official birthday-gala was held at Kaivohuone (Helsinki, Finland). More than three hundred guests (all were dressed in an evening attire) from all over the world joined the celebration of BatMUD's 15-year long journey. The oldest Finnish newspaper, Keskisuomalainen wrote an article[9] on the gala. During April, BatMUD's Niklas Lindroos and Christopher Ragusa attended Notacon 2005 and held a presentation[10] on "The BatMUD community - a biased study in running large global communities on the Internet".

In May 2006, B.A.T. ry published a press-release[11] regarding producing a new Client Platform for BatMUD. This effectively meant, that BatMUD shifted towards tackling the onslaught of the MMORPG (or MMO).

In December 2006, BatMUD released the first version (v1.00) of the Official game client. What makes this Batclient significant among the many MU* communities is the many steps it takes towards the more modern, graphical gaming environments of more recently published games. The game client is a lightweight, unique Java-based desktop application. Also what is notable, is that the development continues rapidly towards an even more competitive game GUI, in order to overcome the MMOG-playing generation's barriers of playing text-based games. This game client is solely dedicated for playing and subscribing to BatMUD.

In February 2007, a 100-page Pro graduation Master's Thesis with the topic "Virtual gift - Trading gifts in BatMUD virtual community"[12] in Cultural anthropology for the University of Jyväskylä was published, written by a non-player in Finnish.

BatMUD made the news again in August, 2007, covered by sites such as Inside Mac Games[13] and several other gaming related news-sites. Other on-line gaming sites, such as Massively[14] have covered BatMUD since then, resulting in B.A.T. ry being acknowledged as a member of the on-line gaming industry.

In July 2008, BatMUD's Official game client, Batclient was audited at AppLabs [28]. This Sun Audit Program testing for Batclient version v1.71 completed successfully and passed the Sun Microsystems' requested audit. Batclient was earlier in March made eligible for the Java Powered -logo, as B.A.T. ry joined the Sun Partner Advantage Program.

GameworldEdit

In BatMUD, a player initially creates a fantasy character by choosing a race, background (civilized, magical, evil religious, good religious or nomadic), alignment and a name for the character. As usual in role-playing games, there is no specific goal in the game. Players get experience points for various things their character does in the virtual environment of the MUD. For example, player character gets experience points from finding new rooms. BatMUD has over 16,000 unique rooms, plus a moderately large outerworld.[15]

BatMUD features a detailed combat system, player to player commerce, playerbuilt cities, seafaring vessels, mounts and hundreds of custom zones.

It is not allowed for a player to have multiple characters in BatMUD, for reasons of fairness. Because BatMUD doesn't require a special client program beyond a telnet-capable computer (although specialised MUD clients do exist), it would be relatively easy for a player to multiplay effectively (leading to experience/virtual currency inflation) compared to other types of modern multiplayer online games.

The RealmEdit

BatMUD: The Age of Exiles[16] was introduced in late 2006. Effectively, for old players, this meant a reconfiguration of the known world and the learning of several new continents[17]. The multitude of areas (or zones) were scattered across the globe. Among this, a new storyline with capital cities were introduced - making the world truly immense reflecting the great depth of the content that can be experienced in the game.

It is said that the Realm map is best to be experienced through the Java based Batclient interactive map features or by viewing the Google maps hack[18] available for the web browsers.

RacesEdit

BatMUD has a wide variety of races. 44 in total: 31 immediately selectable, 10 available only to experienced players rebirthing, and 3 invitation-only player-run races.[19] There are some extremely unusual races including sprite, merman, or barsoomian (a kind of four armed ape capable to some extent of four hand wielding)[20].

If players wish to change their character's race, they can reincarnate and choose another race/background, but lose a small percentage of their total experience and get to respend their experience in a new way from their previous incarnation[21]. They may end up say being one level lower overall than they were before, but unlike many other muds it means you can completely transform your character whereas in many current games such as World of Warcraft, you are very much fixed into one race and class, and the investment of experience into the character is permanent. Experience loss depends on time from last reincarnation as well as reincarnation method and is between .5% to 10% of one's total experience[22]. Experienced players also have an option to rebirth their character allowing them not only to choose a new race and background, but also to change their name. After rebirthing they lose all of their current experience, but get some minor bonuses and a chance to re-experience the lower levels[23].

MonstersEdit

There are a wide variety of monsters on BatMUD from helpless pigeons to such creatures as "a three-headed chimera, true abomination" or "a slender drake encircled by tall shadows" which haunt the skies above lakes of lava on Furnanchia, one of the five continents of the outerworld. Above such lakes, "nothing human" may live but some races of BatMUD are not human.

Player to player confrontationsEdit

Player killing is moderated in BatMUD. It is not totally forbidden if there exists a valid reason or the killer is registered playerkiller (which makes them open prey for anyone) [24]. Registering as playerkiller has some possible benefits, such as eligibility for winner of the week, who gets a special bonus[25]. Complaining about player killing may result in harassment which can continue for as long as the complainer plays the game, but repeated unwarranted player killing is looked down on. In addition to random killings there is an assassin guild, which for a fee will dispatch a group of players to kill another player. As of 2014 "tigers," as the assassin guild is called, no longer killed players but rather griefed them severely.

Archwizard's comment about in-game player killing on a highbie-channel in Finnish, regarding a player's question on the view of the administration: "Kill anyone you please, just not too much!"

Amarth <fin>: tapa ketä vaa missä vaa päi battia kunhan et liikaa!

Hardcore versionEdit

In 2000, a separate version of BatMUD was launched using a hardcore or permadeath ruleset. Though less populous than the normal (often referred to as flower BatMUD) it remains a unique and challenging game world. Several attempts to raise the playerbase, draw more interest from the Archwizards or synchronize both games has yet to be achieved. A classic version (an older version of game lib and world) also exists as a separate game.

SubscribingEdit

The subscription for the game is free, as is playing without any limitations. The official client, Batclient, is also free of charge.

As said, the game can be played enjoyably for no cost, but donations of money are rewarded with in-game benefits which allows the donator to have a character with enhanced characteristics (the pay-for-perks model). Money raised from donations is spent on improving and maintaining the game. These benefits can also be gained by completing in-game tasks, but donations are the easiest way.

Virtual community and PlayerbaseEdit

It is arguable, that BatMUD formed one of the earliest virtual communities of gamers on the Internet. What marks the community significant, is the active operation and participation of the individuals within the virtual community[26]. Several conventions and events are held across the world, with one of the most notable probably being the Indiana, U.S. based Campcon[27], being held for the 11th consecutive year in June, 2009 - a real life gathering of active participants of the BatMUD community. Similar events, or events in different settings are held in Europe and Scandinavia every year.

BatMUD provides a range of interplayer communication methods, allowing the players to talk and chat. Though the majority (about 2/3) of the players reside in Finland, the game itself is wholly in English, hosting a large player base from several countries, including many European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia. Roleplay not being strictly enforced, and the common language of English, allows debates to flourish.

With several hundred players simultaneously online[28], it is also one of the largest traditional MUDs. However with the rise of massively multiplayer online games its popularity has fallen off in recent years with fewer new players joining. Aggressive efforts have been made to make the MUD more newbie friendly but most players continue to be well established players who have invested months or years into the game. As with many other popular online games, addiction is not unknown.

BatMUD employs a virtual economy[29], with players selling rare items and favours to each other in BatMUD's internal currency. Sale of characters or equipment for real life money is forbidden [30]. If it has occurred it has not been a major problem.

External linksEdit

Press releasesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. The official site of B.A.T. ry [1], accessed 2008-12-31
  2. Personal experience of User:Fred Bauder in 1996
  3. Janne Frösen (1991-04-06). "BatMUD flies to another location". rec.games.mud. (Web link). Retrieved on 2009-01-29.
  4. The Joint corporate information system of the National Board of Patents and Registration and the Tax Administartion, Finland [2]
  5. Kaizu, "BatMUD", Pelit, 1994/6
  6. BatMUD, MPOGD.com Game of the Month, April 2003 [3]
  7. United Stated Patent and Trademark Office [4]
  8. Graduation thesis, "Artificial Intelligence in text-based computer games' dramaturgy. Study subjects: Nethack and BatMUD", Audiovisual Mediaculture, University of Lapland, written by Jussi Huhtala (in Finnish) [5]
  9. Article about BatMUD 15-year gala, Keskisuomalainen 19.4.2005 (in Finnish) [6]
  10. Notacon 2005, Speakers and Presenters [7]
  11. B.A.T. ry press release May 10, 2006 through PRWeb [8]
  12. Masters Thesis, Cultural Anthropology: "Virtual gift - Trading gifts in BatMUD virtual community", University of Jyväskylä, written by Anu Ikonen (in Finnish) [9]
  13. News blurb, InsideMacGames, August 2007 [10]
  14. News blurb, Massively.com, November 2007 [11]
  15. 2guysamacandawebsite.com "Welcome to BatMUD, Online Since 14th, April 1990!" [12] March 16 2004
  16. BatMUD: Age of Exiles newspost [13]
  17. BatMUD continent sketches [14]
  18. Realm maps for 'BatMUD: The Age of Exiles', Google Maps hack [15]
  19. Official BatMUD help file on 'races' [16]
  20. Official BatMUD website list of races [17]
  21. Official BatMUD help file on 'reincarnation' [18]
  22. Official BatMUD help file on 'reincarnation process' [19]
  23. Official BatMUD help file on 'rebirth' [20]
  24. Official BatMUD help file on 'player killing' [21]
  25. Official BatMUD help file on 'player killer' [22]
  26. BatMUD: back online and still in business by Jonathan Northwood [23]
  27. Campcon 11 website, Clay City, IN, USA [24]
  28. 'Average online players' user graph on the official web site of BatMUD, checked on 2009-02-26 [25]
  29. Masters Thesis about "Virtual gift - Trading gifts in BatMUD virtual community" [26] (in finnish)
  30. Official BatMUD help file on 'trading' [27]

External links and further readingEdit

Posts from newsgroupsEdit

Alt.mudEdit

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