So You Want To Be a MUCKer, Eh?

Good for you. You'll have some overwhelming surprises waiting for you, though, if you haven't MUCKed before. The following are some basic suggestions and hints that pertain to most furry MUCKs; these will get you started thinking about your character, and will be, if not completely helpful, at least a good idea of what building a MUCK character involves.

Waking Up

Getting Help

Creating Yourself

MUCK Basics

Waking Up

After you've logged on for the first time, you'll be surrounded by text, and probably very confused. Your screen will valiantly inform you that you are standing in some sort of cave, tree, or hotel, while at the same time it is patently obvious to you that you are sitting in front of your computer. It is for the best that you forget about reality for the moment and listen to the computer. On a MUCK, the computer's word is law, and if it says you are standing in a cave, you're standing in a cave.

To move around in this world (and hopefully get out of the cave), you'll need to tell the MUCK where you want to go. This involves typing things like go east and pick up rock and pet lion and hitting return. Usually, the very first command anyone types is out, to get out of the cave they woke up in. You'll emerge into the centre of the MUCK, where there are many other people (who are, by the way, real, actual people just like you, sitting at their computers) who will help you if you need it.

Things will appear on your screen from time to time. People will be moving around you, doing things on their own, going from place to place. Someone may "page" you and say hello--this will be a line that looks like, "Wizard pages, "Hello there!" to you." To reply to these crazy people, you can usually type something like page <name>=<message>. To reply to Wizard's friendly greeting, for instance, you might type: page Wizard=Hi! How the *&#?@!$ do I get out of this cave?

To speak to players who are in the cave (or any other room) with you, use the command "say <message>", or simply ""<message>" (yes, that's a quotation mark followed by the sentence you wish to say). So, if someone nam ed Ralph walks into the room and says, "Hello," you can reply with: say Hi there! or "Hi there!.

To pose--that is, suggest an action rather than just saying a sentence, you can use "pose <action>" or just ":<action>" (yes, that's a colon followed by the action you wish to pose). All poses have your character's name stuffed in front of them, so if your name is Bob, and you type: pose waves hello. the screen will show: Bob waves hello..

If you'd like to look at other players, or objects in the room, you can type look <object name> and you will see a paragraph or two describing what the object looks like. Some MUCKs will let you smell <object> as well.

If you ever get "trapped" anywhere, are accosted or teased by someone, or are otherwise perplexed and confused, typing go home will teleport you magically out of wherever you are and return you to that cave you started out in. (A "home" is a special concept on a MUCK--it's a room that you always return to. Type help homes for a better explanation.)

Getting Help

Now that you can communicate, you can ask for help. The easiest way to get help is just to type help and hit return. The MUCK will usually respond with a little screen that will remind you of the basics: how to move on the MUCK, how to page other players who aren't in the same room with you, and how to speak and pose. On most MUCKs, it will also suggest that you type help index or help index1 for a list of commands that you can type. This server help only tells you about commands that are built into the server, but it also has a lot of information on the basic commands for building, creating, picking up and dropping things, and describing yourself. Try typing help me for a demonstration of help. Server help is accessed with the format help <command> where <command> is the command you want help on.

Typing commands or globals will usually give you a listing of commands that are specific to the MUCK you are on. If you have a question about one of these commands, try either looking at the command (with look <command name>), or typing <command name> #help. Help documentation is often built into the commands. Try just typing the command name by itself if nothing else works; it is very unlikely that you will do something permanently damaging.

The news and info commands will list help files specific to the MUCK you are on, and some strange stuff about the server. News will often give you lists of wizards or Helpstaff, information about the theme of the MUCK, and policy in formation. Info will give you server information, and also tutorials on things like MPI and MUF (which are MUCK programming languages) and TerraForm (which is a program that affects builders of large areas). If news on its own doesn't give you a list of topics, try news index.

Another place to get help is from the HelpStaff, a group of players who devote some of their time to helping new arrivals to the MUCK. Typing staff or helpstaff will generally give you a list of them; then page them with your question. Sometimes Helpstaff members are listed with a little [off-duty] sign next to their name, or an [asleep] sign next to their name. If there's a sign that says either of those things next to a Helpstaff name, don't page that player. Try anotherplayer.

If there is no HelpStaff, wizards usually assume that function. Wizards are the players who own and control the MUCK, who work to maintain it and keep it running. They are often busy, but they know a lot about how a MUCK works and are generally friendly and willing to help newcomers. Commands like wizzes, wizards, news wizzes and news wizards will usually give you a list of current MUCK wizards, what they do, and whether or not they are awake and on-duty. Try to contact a wizard whose specialty is listed as "Public Relations", "Newbies" or "Builders", and make sure you ask a wizard who is not listed as either off-duty or asleep. Off-duty wizards are not working and don't want to be bothered, and wizards who are sleeping are not connected to the game and will not answer you if you call them.

If all else fails, type out from the cave, and go and ask the first player you see. Most will be happy to help you.

Creating Yourself

Assuming that, by now, you can move around without too much difficulty, look at and examine other players and objects, you will notice that when you type look me you get a line like "You see nothing special." Right now, you are a very nondescript character. One of the most wonderful things about MUCKs is describing your character and making it special. Here is a basic run-through of what you need to do:

MUCK Basics

A MUCK is made out of a series of rooms, which work, for the most part, like normal real-life rooms, except that they are born without doors, and are not defined as to size. A room can hold a small closet or a huge meadow, or even the whole of outer space.

Rooms are connected by exits, which work like doors except that exits only go one way, and in order to have a truly open door between two rooms you must have an exit from the first room to the second as well as an exit from the second room to the first. Exits are also used to run programs, which can create many special effects on the MUCK.

In the rooms you can place objects, which can be thought of as blobs of amorphous shape. Objects are not defined as to size, and it is solely the description of the object which defines it, as in the case of a room. An object can be a planet, a small diamond or a can of bug spray--it doesn't matter. Because of this vagueness of definition, you'll occasionally come across spaceships of vast size "parked" in closets or on city streets; pay this no mind.

You are a player, which is an object with a mind, which can manipulate other objects. You are the only thing on the MUCK which can actually move--everything else is either moved by a program or artfully faked. Players can create objects, rooms, exits and programs, and move them about.

Everything on a MUCK has a name, which defines it. A room's name is listed right before the description you see as you walk into it. An object's name is listed in the contents: list when you walk into a room. Your name is listed in the contents: list just like that of an object. Exits' names are used to trigger programs or to move you between rooms. Programs' names are just a matter of tradition. Your character's name may not have any spaces in it and must be fairly short. Room and object names may have spaces, commas, and anything else you like in them. Program names are commonly done like DOS filenames, with names like page.muf and ride.muf. Exits can have several different names, separated by semicolons, and are very special things because of this. Exits can create a lot of special effects. Names can be changed at any time.

Everything on the MUCK also has a number, or database number, which defines it to the MUCK and can never be changed. The MUCK keeps track of how many things are in it by counting database numbers, and many MUF programs work with database numbers instead of object names. The database number is listed in parentheses after the name of things you own--for instance, if you type examine me, on the first line you will see something like: Bob(#131551PBJ)

Those funny letters at the end of the database number are called flags, and flags affect how the MUCK treats objects it finds inside it. The Book of Flags can help explain this further.

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