There wasn’t anything before MUD1…
Richard Bartle on MUDs, from the Birth of MMOs interview
That is the best I could do in trying to extract an inflammatory, out of context quote from the article. (Hey, it inflamed at least one guy.)
And the article ends up with something of a “But what of MUDs?” theme, where it is pointed out that the very limitations of MUDs make them easy to use. It is all done in text, so it is much easier to whip up a virtual world when you do not have to worry about art assets, something that lead to an explosion of MUDs during the late 90s.
As for an audience for MUDs.
Sure, they’re not going to have the success they once had if people have been conditioned to judge graphics as being the mark of a good game. They will still appeal to connoisseurs, lovers of language and people with vivid imaginations, though.
Somebody will play them.
Left unanswered: How are today’s MMOs impacting MUDs?
I know I have seen changes in TorilMUD over the years that have clearly been because of what has happened in games like WoW, things that would have been anathema a decade or more back.