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Developer(s)Sebastian Hammer, Michael Seifert, Hans Henrik Stærfeldt, Tom Madsen, Katja Nyboe
  • WW: 1 March 1991

DikuMUD is a multiplayer text-based role-playing game, which is a type of multi-user domain (MUD). It was written in 1990 and 1991 by Sebastian Hammer, Tom Madsen, Katja Nyboe, Michael Seifert, and Hans Henrik Stærfeldt at DIKU (Datalogisk Institut Københavns Universitet)—the department of computer science at the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark.[1][2]

Commonly referred to as simply "Diku", the game was greatly inspired by AberMUD,[1][3] though Diku became one of the first multi-user games to become popular as a freely-available program for its gameplay and similarity to Dungeons & Dragons. The gameplay style of the great preponderance of DikuMUDs is hack and slash, which is seen proudly as emblematic of what DikuMUD stands for.[4]

Diku's source code was first released in 1990.[5]

Development and history[edit]

DikuMUD was created by the University of Copenhagen's Department of Computer Science among a group of student friends: Katja Nyboe, Tom Madsen, Hans Henrik Staerfeldt, Michael Seifert, and Sebastian Hammer. According to Richard Bartle, co-creator of the first MUD, DikuMUD's developers sought to create a better version of AberMUD. Unlike TinyMUD and LPMUD, which encouraged live changes to the virtual world, DikuMUD hard-coded its virtual world.[6]

The making of DikuMUD was first announced on Usenet by Hans Henrik Stærfeldt March 27, 1990. At the time Madsen, Hammer, and Stærfeldt were the only developers, joined by Michael Seifert in June 1990. Stærfeldt stated that their intention was to create a MUD that was less messy than AberMUD, less buggy than LPMud, and more like Dungeons & Dragons.[7] The first DikuMUD was in working development as early as October 1990 and officially opened publicly running at freja.diku.dk port 4000 on February 3, 1991.[8]

A second DikuMUD appeared in January 1991, running at hayes.ims.alaska.edu.[9] In March 1991, the first public version of DikuMUD, known as Diku Gamma, became available at beowulf.acc.stolaf.edu. Afterwards the DikuMUD at freja.diku.dk was shut down and the game and development moved to alfa.me.chalmers.se.[10]

Other Diku Gamma MUDs appeared in March 1991 running at eris.berkeley.edu, followed by a multiprocessor version running at sequent.berkeley.edu.[11] By early April 1991, there were DikuMUDs running at spam.ua.oz.au, goldman.gnu.ai.mit.edu, bigboy.cis.temple.edu, and elof.iit.edu.[citation needed]

Diku Alfa was released in July 1991 and the DikuMUD team hereafter continued with the development of DikuII. That version was however never released to the public but continues to run today under the name of Valhalla MUD.[12]

On June 21, 2020, Michael Seifert released DikuMUD III for HTML 5 with Websockets. This is now the last official release of DikuMUD.[citation needed]


As a result of its easily operable codebase, several major standalone MUD codebases were spun out using DikuMUD's code, namely Circle, Silly, and Merc. In turn, Merc led to ROM (Rivers of MUD) and Envy), which each spawned their own codebases.[6] One such derivative of DikuMUD and Merc was SMAUG (Simulated Medieval Adventure Multi-user Game).[13]

It has been proposed by Raph Koster (lead designer of Ultima Online and chief creative officer of EverQuest II) that Diku has resulted in the greatest proliferation of gameworlds due to being the easiest to set up and use.[14][15] He further pointed out that "Diku codebases did eventually popularize many of the major developments in muds",[16] and that the Diku gameplay provided inspiration for numerous MMORPGs, including EverQuest, World of Warcraft and Ultima Online.[17]

There was a minor controversy in late 1999 and early 2000 regarding whether the commercial MMORPG EverQuest, developed by Verant Interactive, had derived its code from DikuMUD.[18] It began at the Re:Game gaming conference in 1999, where the Director of Product Development for EverQuest, Bernard Yee, allegedly stated that EverQuest was "based on Dikumud". He did not specify whether he meant the code itself was derived from DikuMUD, or if it just had a similar feeling. Some attendees had understood it to mean the former, given that the chief designer, Brad McQuaid was an avid player of SojournMUD and TorilMUD that was based on the Sequent DikuMUD derivative, and reported to that effect on Usenet.[19] After the Diku group requested clarification, Verant issued a sworn statement on March 17, 2000 that EverQuest was not based on DikuMUD source code, and was built from the ground up.[20][21] In response, the DikuMUD team publicly stated that they find no reason whatsoever to believe any of the rumors that EverQuest was derived from DikuMUD code.[22][23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 22. ISBN 0-471-11633-5. DikuMud first appeared in mid-March of 1990 when a group of programmers at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark got together and began work on a multiplayer game that is similar to but improved on AberMuds. These coders were Hans Henrik Stærfeldt, Katja Nyboe, Tom Madsen, Michael Seifert, and Sebastian Hammer.
  2. ^ Hahn, Harley (1996). The Internet Complete Reference (2nd ed.). Osborne McGraw-Hill. p. 558. ISBN 0-07-882138-X. DikuMuds are named after the Datalogisk Institut Københavns Universitet (Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen), where the original DikuMud was created in 1990 by Katja Nyboe, Tom Madsen, Hans Henrik Stærfeldt, Michael Seifert and Sebastian Hammer.
  3. ^ Keegan, Martin (2003-02-02). "A Classification of MUDs". Martin Keegan's Home Page. Archived from the original on 2012-04-28. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  4. ^ Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (1995). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 22. ISBN 0-471-11633-5. There are Muds for socializing and for being creative, but DikuMuds are for adventure, advancement, and battle.
  5. ^ Mulligan, Jessica; Patrovsky, Bridgette (2003). Developing Online Games: An Insider's Guide. New Riders. pp. 452–453. ISBN 1-59273-000-0. 1990 [...] DIKU MUDs are released.
  6. ^ a b Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 10. ISBN 0-13-101816-7.
  7. ^ Staerfeldt, Hans Henrik (1990). "New mud comming up.. [sic]". alt.mud. We have started to program a mud, that we hope will be finished some time in the end of the summer. This mud will be better (we hope) than other muds as we have learned from their mistakes.
  8. ^ Hammer, Sebastian (1991). "New Mud". rec.games.mud. We consider playing in groups to be one of the more important (entertaining, that is) aspects of mudding, and hence the game includes various features, especially designed to make group-adventuring more fun and rewarding: Four different classes of players, with various abilities; a system which allows members of a group to share the score made at a kill; and lots of other stuff.
  9. ^ Woodcock, Bruce Sterling (1991). "Mud List: January 31, 1991". rec.games.mud.
  10. ^ Wisdom, Joseph (1990). "Arki's MUDLIST... promotional posting". rec.games.mud. beowulf.acc.stolaf.edu /pub/pub/mud tinymud, tinymuck, login style abermud, lpmud, ubermud, myth, ftp daemon patch for lpmuds, vast array of clients, gb, bt, dikumud.
  11. ^ Wisdom, Joseph (1991). "MUD List". rec.games.mud. dikumud.
  12. ^ "DikuMUD II running as Valhalla MUD". Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  13. ^ Simona Isabella (September 2007). "Ethnography of Online Role-Playing Games: The Role of Virtual and Real Contest in the Construction of the Field". Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 8 (3). ISSN 1438-5627. Retrieved 2020-12-08. Realms of Despair (RoD) uses SMAUG, implemented in MERC 2.1
  14. ^ Koster, Raph (2007-05-29). "MMO long tails". Raph Koster's Website. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  15. ^ Koster, Raph. "LP Muds versus Diku-derived muds". Raph Koster's Website. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  16. ^ Koster, Raph (2009-01-09). "What is a Diku?". Raph Koster's Website. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  17. ^ Koster, Raph (2006-06-16). "From the mailbag: fan mail, UO, ideas". Raph Koster's Website. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  18. ^ Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 25. ISBN 0-13-101816-7. If ever there was a case of being in the right place at the right time, EverQuest (EQ) is it. It was basically a DikuMUD with a graphical client bolted on - the similarities are so close that under legal threat its server programmers were forced to sign sworn statements to the effect that they didn't use any actual DikuMUD code in EverQuest.
  19. ^ "Sony's EverQuest admits to using Diku as a base". rec.games.mud.diku. Retrieved 2007-02-03.
  20. ^ Smedley, John; McQuaid, Brad (2000-03-17). "Sworn Statement". DIKU MUD. Archived from the original on 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  21. ^ McQuaid, Brad; Clover, Steve; Uzun, Roger (2000-03-17). "Sworn Statement". DIKU MUD. Archived from the original on 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  22. ^ "DikuMUD/EverQuest". DikuMUD. Retrieved 2022-11-12.
  23. ^ "DikuMUD's statement on Everquest". Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-02-03.

Further reading[edit]

  • Romine, James (1995). "Part 1: DikuMUDs". In Shah, Rawn; Romine, James (eds.). Playing MUDs on the Internet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 19–153. ISBN 0-471-11633-5.
  • Busey, Andrew (1995). "9. DikuMUDs". Secrets of the MUD Wizards. SAMS Publishing. pp. 133–177. ISBN 0-672-30723-5.

External links[edit]