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TinyMUD is the name of MUD server codebase, and the first MUD running that codebase. The MUD itself has subsequently come to be known as "TinyMUD Classic" or simply "Classic", or occasionally "DaisyMUD" (since in the final days of its first incarnation, it ran on a computer named "daisy"). To distance itself from the combat orientated traditional MUDs it was said that the "D" in TinyMUD stood for Multi-User "Domain" or "Dimention", which lead to the eventual adoption of the term MU* to refer to TinyMUD and its many derivatives.[1]

The TinyMUD server was originally written by James Aspnes in mid-to-late 1989. TinyMUD was inspired by Monster[2] (from Lauren Burka's MUDdex). He announced the availability of the first TinyMUD on August 19, 1989; seven months later, on April 29, 1990, he announced TinyMUD's closure (due to the process size exceeding the memory limit of 32 megabytes on the host system). People who have been "mudding" continuously since those days are referred to as "dinosaurs" or "dinos."

TinyMUD's database was briefly resurrected as "PlanckMUD" (named after the new machine it was running on, "planck") by Bruce Woodcock on October 8, 1990. Subsequently renamed "TinyMUD Classic", the goal of this project was to clean up and revive the database, as well as serve as a method of stress-testing the new server it was running on. The revival was very controversial among many TinyMUD players, but the new version was actually even more popular than the original. Sadly, TinyMUD was shut down again on December 11, 1990 when permission to use the new server was revoked. This version of the TinyMUD database is believed to have been subsequently lost.

However, this was not the first nor the last time that TinyMUD would reappear. On August 20, 1990, the administrator of what was then the most popular TinyMUD, Islandia, took down that mud and put TinyMUD Classic up in its place for the day, calling it "Brigadoon Day", a reference to the musical Brigadoon, about a mythical village in Scotland that only appears for one day every 100 years. Since then, it has become a tradition to bring back old muds on August 19 or August 20 for the day. In particular, TinyMUD Classic has reappeared at this time every year from 1998 to the present at

Aspnes released the code to TinyMUD resulting in later non-Aspnes versions; additionally, others extended and modified it into such variants as TinyMush (written by Larry Foard), PennMUSH, TinyMUCK (Stephen White), TinyMUX, TinyMUSE, and SMUG (Jim Aspnes and others). MUCK, MUSH, and MUX are now said to stand for "Multi-User Created Kingdom", "Multi-User Shared Hallucination", and "Multi-User eXperience", but these are backronyms; originally they were simple plays on the notion of "mud." Other MUD servers such as UberMUD, UnterMUD, TeenyMUD and MOO were written by TinyMUD participants but are not directly derived from the TinyMUD code. In 2004, a stripped-down version of TeenyMUD 1, renamed t33nyMUD, was put together by its original author to provide a platform for running TinyMUD Classic, since running Classic's database on modern mud code proved problematic.

As early as the original run of TinyMUD Classic, other MUDs using the TinyMUD server began emerging; since then, literally hundreds of MUDs based on TinyMUD and its derivatives have existed. PennMUSH and TinyMUSH, two of the most widely-used MU* servers in the world, both directly trace their lineage to TinyMUD, and many other servers were inspired by it or its descendants.

No active games currently run on a TinyMUD server, and as the code is extremely dated due to not having been maintained in over ten years, it is very unlikely one will ever start up. One MU*, TinyTIM, formerly ran on TinyMUD but switched to a custom code base several years ago.

One of the important features of TinyMud was the ability of players to build and create their own rooms, objects, and puzzles in the game. The following is the original building commandset abridged from "Three's Unabridged Dictionary of Commands" by Chrysalis (1990).

@chown <object>=<player>. Changes the ownership of an object.
@create <name> [=<cost>]. Creates a thing with the specified name.
@describe <object> [=<description>]. 
@dig <name>. Creates a new room 
@fail <object> [=<message>]. 
@find [name]. Displays the name and number ... whose name matches <name>.
@link <object>=<number>; @link <object>=here; @link <dir>|<room>=home. 
@lock <object>=<key>. 
@name <object>=<new name> [<password>]. Changes the name of <object>. 
@ofail <object> [=<message>]. 
@open <dir>[;<other dir>]* [=<number>]. 
@osuccess <object> [=<message>]. 
@set <object>=<flag>; @set <object>=!<flag>. Sets (or, with '!', unsets) 
@success <object> [=<message>]. 
@unlink <dir>; @unlink here. 
@unlock <object>. Removes the lock on <object>. 

These were the core building commands available on TinyMUD and remain quite similar to those used on later derivatives of TinyMUD.

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  1. Richard Bartle (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. pp. 741. ISBN 0131018167. "TinyMUD was deliberately intended to be distanced from the prevailing hack-and-slay AberMUD style, and the "D" in its name was said to stand for "Dimension" (or, occasionally, "Domain") rather than "Dungeon;" this is the ultimate cause of the MUD/MU* distinction that was to arise some years later." 
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