|Original author(s)||Antti Aleksi Luostarinen, Niklas Lindroos|
|Stable release||1.99, 2011-06-11 / December 28, 2006|
|Platform||Windows Macintosh Linux JVM|
BatMUD is a medieval fantasy MUD, established in 1990. BatMUD is Finland-based and operated and owned by a non-profit organization, Balanced Alternative Techniques ry ry ("B.A.T. ry"), officially registered 1994 in Helsinki, Finland.
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. At the end of 2011, amount of subscriptions was similarly over 30,000 giving BatMUD a flat growth (amount of new players equal those who no longer frequent the game). It has been called a "very popular and complex game".
History, Legal and Development
BatMUD was one of the first LPMuds and has been online with only a few, if any minor breaks since 14 April 1990. The game was initially set-up by a wizard who named himself Jaf, followed by many volunteer coders, all becoming wizards in the process. The MUD's name comes from the name of the server the game was first hosted on, batman.cs.hut.fi. Since then, BatMUD has relocated 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 newcomer, 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 to a level 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, timeline
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" of Finland. The game was also previewed in Pelit-magazine and was highly praised from its rich set of features while scoring over 90/100 points.
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 in April, 2003.
In 2004, B.A.T. ry applied for the BatMUD trademark and "BatMUD" was registered as a trademark by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on 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", Audiovisual Mediaculture written by Jussi Huhtala (in Finnish).
BatMUD turned 15 in 2005, and an official birthday-gala was held at Kaivohuone (Helsinki, Finland). More than three hundred guests from all over the world, all dressed in evening attire, joined the celebration of BatMUD's 15-year long journey. The oldest Finnish newspaper, Keskisuomalainen, wrote an article on the event. During April, BatMUD's Niklas Lindroos and Christopher Ragusa attended Notacon 2005 and held a presentation on "The BatMUD community - a biased study in running large global communities on the Internet".
In December 2006, BatMUD released the first version (v1.00) of the Official game client. What makes this Batclient significant 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. 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" 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 and several other gaming related news-sites. Other on-line gaming sites, such as Massively have covered BatMUD since then, resulting in B.A.T. ry being acknowledged as a member of the on-line gaming industry.
In April 2010, BatMUD celebrated its 20-year anniversary at Restaurant Kaivohuone (Helsinki, Finland). At this point, BatMUD had been online on the Internet and available for players already for over 20 years. The event had two parts, it began with a Wizard-only dinner (during which experiences of BatMUD were shared by the 45 attending coders, honouring game's past), after which the 340+ players who had signed for the free event were allowed entrance. Each celebrant was given a BatMUD badge with their character name printed out, to help people identify other players easier. During the revelries, after a free buffet and official speeches, the famous Finnish all-girl band Indica threw a private gig for the fortunate audience, having most smitten by their performance. Cost of the event was reportedly 30.000,00 euros.
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".
BatMUD features a detailed combat system, player to player commerce, playerbuilt cities, seafaring vessels, mounts and hundreds of custom zones.
Today BatMUD has limited multiplaying. A player can have one two characters and the secondary character must be registered so that the primary and secondary characters are identified. Because BatMUD does not 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.
BatMUD: The Age of Exiles was introduced in late 2006. Effectively, for old players, this meant a reconfiguration of the known world and the learning of several new continents. The multitude of areas (or zones) were scattered across the globe. A new storyline and capital cities were introduced.
BatMUD has a wide variety of races. There are 44 races in total: 31 immediately selectable, 10 available only to experienced players rebirthing, and 3 invitation-only player-run races. There are some extremely unusual races including sprite, merfolk, or barsoomian (a kind of four armed ape capable to some extent of four hand wielding).
If players wish to change their character's race, they can reincarnate and choose another race/background; they lose a relatively small percentage of their total experience and get to respend their experience in a new way from their previous incarnation. This means you can completely transform your character, whereas in many current MUDs and 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. The experience loss depends on the time since one's last reincarnation, as well as reincarnation method, and is between .5% to 10% of one's total experience. 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.
Player to player confrontations
Player killing is lightly moderated in BatMUD. It is not forbidden if there exists a valid reason or the killer is registered playerkiller (which makes them open prey for anyone). Registering as playerkiller has some possible benefits, such as eligibility for winner of the week, who gets a special bonus. Complaining about player killing may result in harassment which can continue for as long as the complainers play 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.
Amarth <fin>: tapa ketä vaa missä vaa päi battia kunhan et liikaa!
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.
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 Playerbase
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. Several conventions and events are being held across the world, with one of the most notable probably being the Indiana, U.S. based Campcon, being held for the 11th consecutive year in June, 2009 — a real life gathering of active participants of the BatMUD community. Similar events 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, enabling it to host a large player base from several countries, including many European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia. Together with roleplay not being strictly enforced, the common language of English allows debates to flourish.
With several hundred players simultaneously online, 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, with players selling rare items and favours to each other in the game's internal currency. Sale of characters or equipment for real life money is forbidden. If it has occurred, it has not been a major problem.
BatMUD was the first MUD played by Matt "Sarapis" Mihaly, founder of Iron Realms Entertainment. Mihaly became a wizard on BatMUD, but was banned for making a room that trapped and disabled other wizards.
- BatMUD Reports increased growth in 2007–2008, press release, Feb 2008
- B.A.T. ry and Mythicscape to Produce Client Platform for Multiuser Internet Games, press release, May 2006
- Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 48. ISBN 0-13-101816-7. "Virtual World BatMUD Birth Year 1990 Codebase LPMUD Home Page URL http://www.bat.org/ [quote is rendering, poorly, the interleaved top row and relevant row of a table]"
- Mulligan, Jessica; Patrovsky, Bridgette (2003). Developing Online Games: An Insider's Guide. New Riders. pp. 452–453. ISBN 1-59273-000-0. "1990 [...] BatMUD opens."
- Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 159. ISBN 0-471-11633-5. "For example, BatMud in Finland has peak hours during the middle of the night relative to the U.S."
- The official site of B.A.T. ry , accessed 2008-12-31
- Benedikt, Claire Lisette; Ciskowski, Dave (1995). MUDs: Exploring Virtual Worlds on the Internet. BradyGames. p. 222. ISBN 1-56686-246-9.
- Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 8. ISBN 0-471-11633-5. "LPmuds started appearing at the turn of the decade, popularized at first by such sites as Genesis, BatMud, and the first of the popular sites in the United States, known as Fenris."
- Janne Frösen (1991-04-06). "BatMUD flies to another location". rec.games.mud. Web link. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
- Maloni, Kelly; Baker, Derek; Wice, Nathaniel (1994). Net Games. Random House / Michael Wolff & Company, Inc. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-679-75592-6. "BatMUD With dozens of races to choose from (each with different skills) [...] BatMUD is for hard-core MUDders, featuring hundreds of skills and spells! Player killing is common, and the only time a wizard would intervene, explains one player, is "if there's a random mass murdering (i.e., summoning 30 random players into a room without exits and killing them all—for no reason).""
- The Joint corporate information system of the National Board of Patents and Registration and the Tax Administration, Finland 
- Kaizu, "BatMUD", Pelit, 1994/6
- BatMUD, MPOGD.com Game of the Month, April 2003
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
- 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) 
- Article about the BatMUD 15-year gala, Keskisuomalainen 19.4.2005 (in Finnish) 
- Notacon 2005, Speakers and Presenters
- B.A.T. ry press release May 10, 2006 through PRWeb
- Masters Thesis, Cultural Anthropology: "Virtual gift - Trading gifts in BatMUD virtual community", University of Jyväskylä, written by Anu Ikonen (in Finnish) 
- News blurb, InsideMacGames, August 2007
- News blurb, Massively.com, November 2007
- 2guysamacandawebsite.com "Welcome to BatMUD, Online Since 14th, April 1990!"  March 16, 2004
- BatMUD: Age of Exiles newspost
- BatMUD continent sketches
- Realm maps for 'BatMUD: The Age of Exiles', Google Maps hack
- Official BatMUD help file on 'races'
- Official BatMUD website list of races
- Official BatMUD help file on 'reincarnation'
- Official BatMUD help file on 'reincarnation process'
- Official BatMUD help file on 'rebirth'
- Official BatMUD help file on 'player killing'
- Official BatMUD help file on 'player killer'
- BatMUD: back online and still in business by Jonathan Northwood
- Campcon 11 website, Clay City, Indiana, USA
- 'Average online players' user graph on the official web site of BatMUD, checked on 2009-02-26 
- Carton, Sean (1995). Internet Virtual Worlds Quick Tour. Ventana Press. pp. 150–151. ISBN 1-56604-222-4. "While it may be a tough place to start out, BatMUD is pretty hospitable for newbies, too, because of its great help system and special newbie goodies."
- Masters Thesis about "Virtual gift - Trading gifts in BatMUD virtual community"  (in finnish)
- Official BatMUD help file on 'trading'
- Neely, Kim (1994-12-01). "Caught in the Net". Rolling Stone (696): 61–66.
- Davis, Steven (2006-09-08). "The World of text MMOs / MUDs - An Interview with Matt Mihaly, CEO of Iron Realms Entertainment". PlayNoEvil. Retrieved 2010-05-20.[dead link]
- Official website
- BatWiki, community wiki
- Realm maps for 'BatMUD: The Age of Exiles', Google Maps hack
- Realm- and other BatMUD-related maps.