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In his book Designing Virtual Worlds, Richard Bartle (co-creator of the original MUD) mentioned that "several major codebases (standalone MUD program suites) were created from the basic DikuMUD original, the main ones being Circle, Silly, and Merc. Merc spawned ROM (Rivers of MUD) and Envy, among others, and these in turn had their own spinoffs."
Merc was created by Michael Chastain ("Furey"), Michael Quan ("Kahn"), and Mitchell Tse ("Hatchet") at the University of California, Berkeley and first released on December 18, 1992. Within months other mudders picked up the codebase and began to modify it for their own MUDs. Later in 1993, the Merc authors, going by the name MERC Industries, released version 2 and minor releases. MERC Industries dissolved on October 13, 1993 and the final Merc release was version 2.2 on November 24, 1993.
The "stock" Merc 2.2 release contains 47 areas (with the city of Midgaard serving as the starting location), four classes (cleric, mage, thief, and warrior), and 35 mortal player levels.
Merc-derived MUDs now form the largest branch in the Diku family. Several other highly influential MUDs are directly derived from Merc 2, including:
Merc MUDs must abide by the Merc license in addition to the Diku license since it is a derived work. Medievia, a Merc1-derived MUD, has been the source of much controversy for allegedly not conforming to the Diku license since it does not attribute the Diku authors in its title screen and its commercially exploitation of the game.
- Designing Virtual Worlds, 2003, New Riders Pub. ISBN 0-13-101816-7
- "Raph Koster's Online World Timeline".
- John Bellone (March 2002). "So you want to be a coder, eh?". The Mud Companion (3): 28. ISSN 1499-1071. "If you have a good amount of time on your hands, have a lot of ideas, and don't see another codebase that can be easily changed to fit your needs, then Merc is your choice. It is very flexible, has all the basics (except for color) and is just waiting for you."
- Martin Keegan. "A Classification of MUDs". "For example, all Merc muds have (or *should* have) the original DikuMUD license and credits present, and generally look and feel relatively similar to original DikuMUD."
- Richard Woolcock (2000). "MEDTHIEVIA! A Comparison of Merc 1.0 and Medievia IV". "Medievia IV is a Merc 1.0 mud which doesn't follow the either the Merc or Diku licenses."