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Old 05-02-2006, 10:43 AM   #1
Threshold
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KaVir raised a very interesting question in the other DIKU thread:

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"What do you think the mud community would be like today if there'd never been a Diku mud?" Without Diku, I believe things would have been very different today, and that's part of my point. Because now we'll never know how much more different it might have been if the Diku team had carried on developing.

My post was from the perspective of the state of muds today, now that the market is saturated with more muds than players know what to choose from. They've certainly got here with the help of Diku (and other hobbyist codebases), but the completely custom muds no longer depend on that continued development. If fewer hobbyest mud developers contribute back into the mud community, it's unlikely to greatly hinder the truly original muds (they write their own code), and may even help them (the competition is less advanced).
Probably the two main responses to this question would be:

1) The Mudding Community would be better off if DIKU had never been. DIKU created the stock explosion, and is largely responsible for the fact that the majority of MUDs are of very low quality and are very poorly run. DIKU made it too easy to get a MUD running, and thus too many people were running them that had no business doing so. As a result, a potential new MUDder had a high likelihood of landing on one of these crap/stock MUDs the first few times they tried out MUDding, and would simply quit before finding a good one. DIKU also created a culture of people who thought they could run muds by cobbking together snippets and zones coded by other people. This created an overall "industry" dominated by unoriginal, uninspired games.

2) The Mudding community may not have even existed without DIKU. DIKU let thousands of MUDs get created that would never have been made otherwise. From this horde of muds, a few very good ones rose to the top and served as glimmering examples to other designers. DIKUs accessibility allowed the community to grow and flourish. From the humble beginnings of DIKU, all sorts of other mud engines evolved - including Everquest. DIKU played a very large role in creating the "MMO" market, and fostering its explosive growth. If DIKU had never been, we might still be waiting for the modern MUD and/or MMO to evolve.

I think those are the two major schools of thought on the issue. What are your thoughts and on which side do you come down?
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:59 AM   #2
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My opinions on the matter is that without this explosion of "crap" stock games, and the ease to get a mud up and running the mud market would have been very limited and even more niche than it is today. DIKU has definately been a help to get people into the text-based gaming.

HOWEVER! Their non-profit license has also LIMITED the whole market. It has greatly reduced the amount of money that could have been flooding into the games, improving them, making their staff fulltimers, allowing better advertising and getting more people coming to the text-based games.

Nothing wrong with the codebase itself (i've even used it and have had a lot of fun and learning with it) but their license serves NO PURPOSE whatsoever and has only been bad for the community. It should have been under license where people could make profit from it. It would have been a blast for the text-based gaming.

Edit: And for people saying the license purpose is to somehow give profit to the diku crew. That is pure bull**** imo. I don't see any muds using their commercial engine. And whatever profit they made from that must be extremely small. If they wanted profit from it, it could have been handled so that you could BUY rights to make profit from the original codebase. That would seriously had given them a nice income.

Then people say it is a licsense between the university and the diku group where they were forced to use a non-profit clause on the codebase. Bull**** imo. I've never heard of any students making their own software (100% original) in classes, that couldn't use it as they want themselves. I would seriously like to hear that from their examinator or read their university policy regarding student's OWN software before i believe it.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:09 AM   #3
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I would have to say that even if both statements might have partial truth to them, the second one seems to be much more valid.

The reason for this is that before Diku, MUDs were not really known of, this means that the chance for a person to hear about a MUD were very slim; after the MUD explosion, there were dozens (or hundreds) of new games in need of players, and the new Admins would have probably gone around their friends asking them to try their new hobby. So, if for every new MUD you got a dozen of people who learned about MUDs, this means that in a very short period of time a base-group for the community arose. This in turn created the need of these very social creatures (e-social if you wish ) that are MUDders to create forums, websites telling the world about their new discovery, discussion groups around Diku development, etc.

Given the e-social nature of MUDs, I believe it would have been either much slower or imposible to reach the point we are at now, where even as a niche hobby, MUDding is known by a broader group of people other than just MUDders.

I think it was Matt who said in the Diku license thread that the biggest value for himself (practically speakin) of the Diku team's work, was creating the market that allowed for his and other comercial enterprises to flourish. He argues that it would not have been posible for him, and I argue that probably for anybody who started at that time, to single-handedly create this market. You need a lot of people with a small voice (big comunity base) or a few people with a very loud voice (small comunity, injecting money in ads, etc).

Where do I come from? I have played MUDs since 97, and all of the ones I have played to stay (ie. more than a few minutes) until very recently, were Diku based. It should be no wonder that I learned about the hobby from someone who was "working all the time" in the computer lab I used to TA at, with all this text flooding his screen , rather small voice, but through me got another 15 or so "initiates" to the comunity in my time at college.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Hephos @ May 02 2006,16:59)
Their non-profit license has also LIMITED the whole market. It has greatly reduced the amount of money that could have been flooding into the games, improving them, making their staff fulltimers, allowing better advertising and getting more people coming to the text-based games.
It could also be argued that the licence has helped encourage mud developers to break away from the Diku architecture after a certain point, and build their own codebases from scratch. I can think of several mud developers who have done this, and I suspect their end results will be much more interesting than if they'd just carried on building new features around the limitations of the old architecture.
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Hephos @ May 02 2006,10:59)
Nothing wrong with the codebase itself (i've even used it and have had a lot of fun and learning with it) but their license serves NO PURPOSE whatsoever and has only been bad for the community. It should have been under license where people could make profit from it. It would have been a blast for the text-based gaming.
You should probably specify that you think the one clause dealing with profit is objectionable. I don't see how you could argue with stuff like "If you use our work, credit us thusly." I'm not sure what the DIKU team does for a living these days, but I'm confident that the credit they get from such a license makes their resume shine a little brighter.

Back to the broader point, I think you could argue that if DIKU didn't kick open the door when they did, text MUDs might not have taken off as a genre. As is, they're a niche market, and if they hadn't attracted so many innovators so rapidly, the genre might have missed its "window" and not gotten a foothold before the explosion of multiplayer graphical arcade-style games like Doom. I'm sure they would have still existed, but the MUD community would be a shadow of its current presence.

I think commercial interest is secondary to the innovation angle-- the community needed a working prototype before any buyers would have come along. It took a lot of sandbox work to show everyone what works and what doesn't, and there's no guarantee that a small number of commercial efforts would have outperformed the mass of noncommercial ones. It's also questionable that commercial entities would be interested in MUDs at all if it wasn't for the DIKU-aided explosion in overall MUD populations.
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:00 PM   #6
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It could also be argued that the "no profit" clause may have helped keep the door open. Diku derivatives probably make up the bulk of todays muds, but very few of those muds are based on the original Diku - most are based on later generations such as Circle, Smaug, ROM, etc. If those muds had been able to profit from their code, I can't help but wonder how many of them would have sold licences, rather than giving the code out for free.
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:19 PM   #7
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Valg wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by
It's also questionable that commercial entities would be interested in MUDs at all if it wasn't for the DIKU-aided explosion in overall MUD populations.
Well, that's largely only potentially true of commercial text MUDs post AOL going flat-rate circa 1997. Commercial text MUDs like Gemstone, Dragonrealms, Legends of Terris, etc would still have existed, and of course, a host of other commercial text MUDs that predate DIKU, like MUD, Avalon, Shades, etc would have been more or less unaffected by DIKU never existing.

-matt
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:41 PM   #8
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Angry

I think I would probably lean more towards the second of the statements, that's what came to mind first. It wasn't the genesis of the whole thing, but it certainly facilitated the expansion. It allowed more people to get interested in running muds, because they could then say "well I have this great idea for how I'd like to do such a thing, let's see if it's possible" and similarly you had more options for players. The ease of setup is a big part of what allowed this to happen, and made it more than just a small corner of the internet (let's be honest, it still is...but it's a slightly larger small corner).

The problem expressed in the other statement is intimately tied in with this ease of startup though. More people were able to just get something going because they could, or because they didn't like how things were run where they were before, etc. That doesn't always lead to a quality experience. I know the first mud I played at had an owner who left and didn't turn over the keys to anyone, so it was hosted...but nobody had the power to make any changes whatsoever, fix bugs, add new content, or anything else. Kind of a problem. You got a lot of that in the backlash. Stock is good in that it gives you a base to work from, but...well yeah it is tough to make a really quality game using only stock. There's nothing to distinguish you from anywhere else. Initially a lot of people didn't really take that next step to add in their own original content...which created stagnation.

Without diku, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the same basic thing would have happened....it just would have taken more time. Someone probably would have cooked up a basic engine that people could use to run their games, and that would have been passed around--perhaps with a more or less restrictive license, who knows.
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:35 PM   #9
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I'm pretty sure the mudding world would have been roughly
as well off, if not slightly better off.

Some of these posts seem to betray unawareness that
there are many different types of popular muds...not
just Diku derivatives. Take a look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LPMud

LPMuds and Diku were both born roughly around the same
time, the early 90's. If Diku had never been born, people would
just have used LP more. Or something like it would have
been developed. Nature abhors a vacuum.

It may *seem* like the mud world belonged to Diku
and that it kicked open the doors of popularized
mudding, if Diku is all you knew. The LP world was
just as busy with its own flowering.

If you are unfamiliar with LP, let me assure you there are
many LPmuds out there, and people really do play them.
The classic example is Discworld, which (last I knew) averages
some 40 to 80 players at any given time. Sure, it used to
be nearer to 200, but muds in general have seen this
decline, not just Discworld, and not just LP. And don't make
me trot out Genesis. WTF knows how many players they
average.

To recap, I think there *might* have been fewer muds out
there sans Diku, but overall, it's not clear to me this
would have ben a bad thing.

As to LP being harder to set up and use than Diku, that's
hogwash. Maybe some crappy libs out there are tough,
but the old standards: Lima, Skylib, Dead Souls; are a breeze.

Without Diku, you'd just see a bunch of lame ass
Dragonball muds running Lima, instead of a bunch of lame
ass Dragonball muds running Diku.

-Crat
http://dead-souls.sourceforge.net
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Old 05-02-2006, 08:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
> The reason for this is that before Diku, MUDs were not really known of
I'm not really sure that is true. Richard Bartle's MUD1 certainly came WAY before DIKU in 1978 (and MUD2 in 1985). The entire LP line of MUD drivers/libs had nothing to do with DIKU, and the original LP came before DIKU. There were a ton of door games on BBSes that had a very similar look and feel to muds, and came before MUDs. There are probably a number of other MUDs that predate DIKU whose influence was pretty widespread.

DIKUmud was written in 1990/1991. AberMUD was created in 1987 and TinyMUD in 1989. Lars Pensjö says Tiny and Aber were the inspiration for LP, and LP was created in 1989. (Interestingly, AberMUD V was later released under the GPL.)

Then you have to keep in mind the GIGANTIC AOL muds (like the Simultronics games). That's millions of players right there.

So it seems that even without DIKU, there would certainly have been a LOT of activity in the MUD arena, and perhaps less "Stock Syndrome."

Quote:
Originally Posted by
> I'm sure they would have still existed, but the MUD community
> would be a shadow of its current presence.
That's very possible, but then at the same time, is the MUD community already a shadow of what it COULD HAVE BEEN if MUD engines/drivers/etc. had been more open source instead of so restrictive? If the answer to that is yes, DIKU is not the only one to blame. LP and some other MUD engines also had restrictive licenses at the time of their release.

I remember many years ago Lars Pensjö wrote some emails and usenet posts saying he no longer intended to enforce any sort of license limitations on anyone running LP muds. I think he was hoping to free LP muds from the restrictiveness of the original LP "license." He hasn't been active in MUDding for a long time, so I don't know exactly what his intent was. This act by him, along with the DIKU creators relative lack of interest in enforcing their own license, makes me think that the DIKU and LP creators regret the restrictiveness of their original license. I think even they realize they seriously stunted the growth of the MUD community - but that is pure speculation. In hindsight, I think a very good argument can be made that putting restrictive licenses on those engines was a mistake.

Sadly, the DIKU/LP/ creators came along before the open source software revolution, and could not predict the power of simply turning your code free. Imagine if Apache, Linux, or other such programs were released using a DIKU style license. Think about what we would have lost. I don't blame them for not having the foresight to see the power of open source, I just lament the bad timing.
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:23 AM   #11
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I am begining to believe that a lot of the discussion here that orbits around Diku simply ignores other multi-user hobby software. MOO's and Mush's and all the rest do not seem to get a lot of airtime here, and yet I have been told repeatedly that MOO code at least would be quite ammenable for game designing. TinyMux seems to be a good choice as well. Not only that, but the support for learning how to code Tinymux is as large as any out there, as far as I can see.

I think a lot too much is made of Diku. It and LP both benefit a great deal, whether people like to confess it or not, from their conceptual similarities to D&D in their most common implementations, in my opinion. Had either or both not come into being, people would have used one of the other various tools that have become available to more or less model D&D. The hobby itself would look very much like it does now, I think.

See http://www.tinymux.com
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Shane @ May 03 2006,11:23)
I think a lot too much is made of Diku.  It and LP both benefit a great deal, whether people like to confess it or not, from their conceptual similarities to D&D in their most common implementations, in my opinion.
The similarity to D&D is certainly part of it, however I would say that the biggest reason for the popularity of Diku derived muds is how easy it is to get a finished game up and running. The original Diku came with a ready made world with spells, combat system, monsters to kill, treasure to collect etc. The same can be said of most LP mudlibs.

People who complain about the non commercial licensing of Diku and LP often overlook that there are many more codebases that allow commercial use just fine. Tiny, mux, mush, MOO, coldc and coolmud for example are all established codebases which allow commercial use, yet they require considerably more effort to get a game ready to play. I would say that is likely why they are far less popular.
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Old 05-03-2006, 02:25 PM   #13
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One wonders though why LP in particular had a mudlib but no one seems interested in making a similar setup on these others.

Poking around MOO and MUX, there are foundational little code snippets here and there for charcters, character types and the like, but no one that I know of has gone on to build and make available a playable game.

If there is a playable world on MOO or MUX or any of these others, that would be the kind of thing I would love to see info on in the thread on Code and Codebases.
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Old 05-04-2006, 10:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Shane @ May 03 2006,11:23)
I think a lot too much is made of Diku.
I think you are right. I think a big reason that DIKU dominates so many discussions on TMS, TMC, and elsewhere is a result of it being so incredibly easy to set up and expand with snippets and downloadable zones.

Even someone with virtually no skill with computers or game design can get a DIKU up and running pretty easily, and fill it with snippets and zones. This results in a ton of people who pay $5 for some mud hosting, rush to forums like TMS to put simultaneous posts in the Advertising for Players/Advertising for Coders forums, and then declare themself a "game developer."

Then, since they can't actually spend their time working on their game (since they don't know how to), they just occupy their time posting on MUD community forums. Also, since they have no success themself, they pile on every crusade against successful or commercial muds, because then they get to feel like its ok that their game stinks, since its not their fault. The successful and commercial games are all dirty cheaters in one way or another. The fact that their Crap Stock MUD has no players is because these successful games are cheating to steal players that should rightfully be theirs! This includes high rankings that the successful muds don't deserve. There needs to be a way for even the crappy stock muds to get listed on the front page!

They get stroked by the other "admins" like themselves, and they get to feel like they are part of the big "We" fighting against the ugly "Them."

The net result of this is a totally stagnant community where few people with skill or talent are interested in participating. The ancillary result of this is that general MUD issues and topics get dominated by DIKU stuff.

The funny thing is, it didn't used to be this way. Back in the day, the .diku usenet newsgroup didn't really get more traffic than many of the other rec.games.mud.* groups. But as time has gone on, even with little or no development of DIKU and its progeny, the incredible ease in setup/expansion-via-snippet has made its influence GROW (in a weird, sick way).

Unfortunately, this also makes it harder for newer, more viable MUD engines to get noticed. Many of the ones you've already mentioned here and in other threads really deserve more attention than they get. Sadly, its really hard for them to flourish amongst the horribly overgrown bed of weeds (DIKU Stock Muds).
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Old 05-04-2006, 10:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by
I think you are right. I think a big reason that DIKU dominates so many discussions on TMS, TMC, and elsewhere is a result of it being so incredibly easy to set up and expand with snippets and downloadable zones.

Even someone with virtually no skill with computers or game design can get a DIKU up and running pretty easily, and fill it with snippets and zones. This results in a ton of people who pay $5 for some mud hosting, rush to forums like TMS to put simultaneous posts in the Advertising for Players/Advertising for Coders forums, and then declare themself a "game developer."
Diku is quite good for beginners, as it's very quick and easy to get something up and running. It's also flexible enough that a skilled programmer can do a lot with it, and (being primarily hardcoded) provides a good platform for those with prior programming knowledge.

On the other hand, serious (and truly professional) mud developers create their muds completely from scratch, or purchase licences from other people who have done so.

This leaves LPmud in a sort of "middle ground", for those who want something more flexible than Diku (and don't mind a bit of extra work to get there), but lack the time and/or skill to create their game completely from scratch. It's particularly good for those who don't have very strong programming skills, as the development environment is usually very robust, and already supports a lot of things which - in a Diku or scratch-written mud - would have to be implemented manually.
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Old 05-04-2006, 11:48 AM   #16
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I think you're pretty much right on in that analysis KaVir. It elucidates my point, that the ease with with DIKU can be set up (and expanded with downloadable snippets and zones) contributes to an artificial exaggeration of its importance and positive impact on MUDding as a whole.

I definitely think DIKU is important and has had some positive influence in certain areas.

But I think it is also true that it has had huge negative impacts as well - in the ways that have already been discussed.

But more importantly, I think if DIKU has never existed, the effect on the MUD community would probably be very limited, or perhaps somewhat positive. If it had not existed, the other engines, codebases, and options would have filled the void, and may even have resulted in less horrible stock muds and less wanna-be admins polluting MUD communities and forums like this one.
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:29 PM   #17
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Well, I've never been one for dissing the little guy. Doubtless something would have evolved to fill that void for people who want to download, download, snip and go.

Not everyone who does that has aspirations of being a game designer either. I downloaded coffeemud and played with it a while just because, well, it was fun! I can also see how playing a stock mud you are familiar with only without as many people hogging all the good kills would appeal to some people. Then and a group of friends get the world to themsevles.

Something would have had to have filled that void eventually, I think.

On the other end of the spectrum, there have always been muds with strict guidelines, and even application processes they demand before you are allowed on. That's the flip side to the wide open side of mudding. It's a matter of taste.

It's in the nature these sorts of boards though to have broad appeal, which means you are going to have to deal with a good amount of generalized static.

The key is to drink beer while posting.

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Old 05-05-2006, 12:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ May 02 2006,12:19)
Commercial text MUDs like Gemstone, Dragonrealms, Legends of Terris, etc would still have existed, and of course, a host of other commercial text MUDs that predate DIKU, like MUD, Avalon, Shades, etc would have been more or less unaffected by DIKU never existing.
I'm not sure I agree.

Granted, I have no numbers of any kind to back this up, but my theory of the moment is this:

1) Mudding is a hobby largely spread by word-of-mouth.
2) People starting half-assed lame stock DIKUs got friends of theirs into it, probably people who wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to MUDs.
3) Some percentage of those people were later exposed to Avalon et. al. and thought "Wow, this is way better than my buddy's MUD. I'll play this instead."

I think the hobby has been grown to some degree due to the existance and relative ease-of-use of DIKU, and that it's probably that non-DIKU-related MUDs have still seen some benefit from it.
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Old 05-05-2006, 12:44 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (The_Disciple @ May 05 2006,00:14)
1)  Mudding is a hobby largely spread by word-of-mouth.
2)  People starting half-assed lame stock DIKUs got friends of theirs into it, probably people who wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to MUDs.
3)  Some percentage of those people were later exposed to Avalon et. al. and thought "Wow, this is way better than my buddy's MUD.  I'll play this instead."
I think that's a good point, especially when you consider that well-developed games (of any codebase) aren't going to lose players to half-assed stock MUDs (of any codebase). It's a one-way street.

If 5,000 stock DIKU MUDs appeared tomorrow, each with 10 players, I'd view that as a plus for us.
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Old 05-05-2006, 08:28 AM   #20
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I wonder what the attitude would be if the Diku team had never released their code, but instead ran it as a single mud.  It'd probably be praised for its originality and uniqueness among a sea of stock MudOS derivatives...

Right now we'd probably have someone harping on about how easy it is to open an LP derivative, with so many snippets and downloadable zones that even someone with no real skill can get one up and running fairly quickly.  Meanwhile, in another thread we'd be talking about the licence and its "no financial benefit" clause, with regular flames concerning a certain infamous mud (nicknamed "MudOSThievia").
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