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20th Anniversary gala speech @ Kaivohuone

Below is a transcript of the speech given by Gore at the 20th anniversary gala at Restaurant Kaivohuone on April 17th 2010.


Ladies and Gentlemudders. Distinguished Guests.

Tonight we celebrate the 20th anniversary of BatMUD. And while 20 years may not seem like such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, in IT terms 20 years is an eternity.

To put this into perspective – the World Wide Web – something we all take for granted and use every day, was prototyped in 1990 but didn't get prominence until the first graphical browser was created in 1993. So BatMUD predates the web.

The first popular version of Microsoft Windows (3.0) was released in May 1990, a month later than BatMUD. In terms of computer gaming, probably the best known titles of that year was Wing Commander and Railroad Tycoon. So 20 years is a long time, and the IT world has changed considerably since.

This change has obviously also had an impact on BatMUD and the MUD community overall. In many ways, the peak was reached during late 1990s when Internet connections started to become readily available in homes, schools and offices – but before there were prominent commercial multiuser games. For example, EverQuest – which I guess could be considered the first commercial multiuser fantasy game with significant success – wasn't launched until 1999. And in that vacuum the MUD community – and BatMUD with it – flourished.

During the past decade several prominent MMOs have been released, bolstered by massive marketing campaigns and some of them have become massively successful – drawing millions of users. This is actually a natural development, and the MMOs have their roots in the MUD community. However, for all their fancy graphics and epic storylines, there are two areas where they fail to compete with MUDs.

The first is the ease of development. On a graphical MMO it takes a large team of developers, graphics artists etc to generate a single area, leading to long development time and thereby also to less content. Compare that to a MUD where an area can be created by a sole developer based on a good idea and with limited coding ability. This leads to a more diverse experience as BatMUD offers a lot of content for all kinds of tastes.

The second area where I feel MMOs todate have failed is in communication. In that immersive 3-d graphical experience, you end up having some miniscule chat window which leads to limited interaction with the people around you. In fact, most MMO groups resort to 3rd party software such as ventrilo and teamspeak to work around that problem.

Compare that to BatMUD. We have a highly developed communication system, and even people who no longer actively play the game enjoy lurking around and taking part in the discussions. This has helped BatMUD form a rather unique community feel, something which is absent in the MMOs.

In fact, its this very same community that probably draw most of you here tonight. Sure, some might be here for the free food or drinks. Some might even be here just to hear me talk (tho I doubt it). But most are here because over the years, we have met interesting people in the game and turned that into actual friendships.

Ladies and Gentlemen, BatMUD is not just a game with a following. It is a community that happens to be built around a game. While killing orcs and throwing acid arrows is ofcourse fun, one can't deny that BatMUD's success if due to its multiuser nature and because of all the great people that make up its community – both developers and players. Tonight we have with us members of this community from various parts of the world. We have Americans, Canadians... heck, we even have some swedes whether we like it or not. Unfortunately due to the flight restrictions not everybody was able to make it.

As BatMUD is based solely on volunteer work, it means we all have a possibility to contribute. The most obvious way how to contribute is ofcourse by becoming a developer or by contributing ideas. However, there are other ways to contribute too – for example, by arranging cons where members of the community have a chance to meet. I would like to specifically highlight here the excellent work done by Entropy, who has hosted 11 Campcon's, and it has turned into a yearly tradition in the US. Another way to contribute is to help newbies or to lead eq parties – it's not only fun for yourself, it also provides fun for others. Finally, we often get feedback on how we could market BatMUD – and that's great, but it's even better when you take the extra step and assist in the marketing – introduce new people to the game – it often helps a new player to know there is someone there who can assist them in the sometimes confusing text environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we honor the 20th anniversary of the community known as BatMUD. 20 years is a long time, and unfortunately over the years we have lost several good friends. The administration has intentionally avoided setting up morbid memorials in the game for those who have passed away, but we treasure the memories we have of them. No matter were they developers or players, they contributed in their own way to the atmosphere and thereby success of the game. So while tonight is a night of celebration, it is also a night of rememberance and I would like to dedicate a thought to those who no longer are with us.

But life goes on as they say, and so will BatMUD and this merry event. In conclusion, as a personal thought – I have been involved with BatMUD for 18-19 years now, much of that as a developer or admin. There's been some tough times, heated debates and whatnot, but it's also been a very positive experience and something I would never trade. I have gotten to know a bunch of fantastic people, and contributed to a highly complex distributed development environment, while still having a ton of fun. For that I am thankful and I wish you all a happy anniversary!