Daily Archives: November 2, 2017

Reviving ZMud 7.21

Posting something from my long, ongoing series of memories about TorilMUD always brings out a few of the usual suspects, and my tale of the economy of Waterdeep was no exception.

Xyd, who got me into TorilMUD back in 1993 asked when I was going to post about the zone known as the Elemental Glades.  A strange but essential part of the Leuthilspar Tales series, I have meant to get to that for some time.

The request set me on a path again, but I did not have enough information.  Memory is fleeting and it has been more than a decade since I probably did anything in that zone.  I could sketch a basic outline of the zone, the role it played for us as young elves on Evermeet, early attempts to crack into what the zone really was, and the eventual successful discovery of what the place was really about.

But, for me, a story like that needs details.  It is often the little things that trigger more memories and add depth to a tale.  And to get those details I would have to return to TorilMUD and visit the zone, walk through the rooms, and rediscover the clues left for us.

Actually logging in wasn’t a big deal.  I use Cygwin every day from my Windows box at work to log into our linux servers to run installs, grab logs, and what not.  The command line interface isn’t dead, it isn’t even resting yet.  So getting to the TorilMUD is as easy as typing in:

telnet torilmud.com 9999

The TorilMUD site tells you about it.  I even remember my login credentials.  Piece of cake.

The problem is, again, one of memory.  The mechanics of simply getting into the game are easy.  Finding things in the world… more difficult.  Much more difficult.

Individual rooms in the game can be quite memorable.  Even a few routes, like the one from Finn to Anna’s cottage, are etched into my memory.   But general navigation of the world can be a chore.  People who make MUDs aren’t always very creative with room names.  As I pointed out in a post about eight years ago, there can be a lot of repetition in room names.  Examples from the ZMud map database in that post:

  • 94 rooms named “Inside a Large Grove of Shadows”
  • 79 rooms named “A Bend in a Passage”
  • 58 rooms named “An Abandoned Mine Tunnel”
  • 57 rooms named “A Wide Dirt Road”
  • 53 rooms named “A Passageway”
  • 36 rooms named “A Rocky Trail”
  • 29 rooms named “A Trail Through a Forest”
  • 22 rooms named “Dense Forest”

So a lot of the time you’re just sitting there with a room name, some info about the size of the room, and the exits.

The Pathway of Peace
Room size: Large (L:30 ft W:75 ft H:500 ft)
Exits: -N -E -S

That wasn’t a ton of help on its own when I was playing the game every day.  A decade after I last did anything serious there and it might as well just say, “Yet Another Room!”

I could piece together how to get to the Elemental Glades, but I would be wandering essentially at random in a zone where there was some danger for even a high level character.

So I felt I had to get ZMud back up and running and with it all of the maps I so carefully made over the years.

In a timely coincidence (I had already written the Waterdeep post but, it not being time sensitive, I actually queued it up to post more than a week later) an old member of the Shades of Twilight guild, Oteb for those who might remember, dropped me a note asking if I still had the stash of information that once outraged the MUD, it being posted openly on the internet, as mentioned in yet another old post of mine.

That got me digging through some external drives in search of some pretty old files.

I did not find the files Oteb asked about, but I did dig out a backup copy of ZMud I had archived away.

Liked being able to connect to TorilMUD, having a copy of ZMud isn’t exactly a challenge.  Good old Zugg still has his site up and you can still download/buy a copy of ZMud or the newer CMud.  Not bad for a little company that has been selling a MUD client since 1995 or so.

The configuration files and, most importantly, the map database file were a big deal.  And it was ZMud 7.21, the final version of the client, so it seemed likely to be somewhat up to date.

I dragged that over to my main drive to see if I could get that going.

The first thing it wanted was a registration code, the 30 day free trial period having ended a long, long time ago.  I am not even sure that ZMud includes that trial any more, given how much Zugg is trying to push people onto CMud.  If you buy a copy of ZMud today you get a copy of CMud in the bargain.  It is a pity that my attempts to migrate to CMud have all failed on the maps part.  And without maps there is no point in moving.

I couldn’t find the license key, but Zugg has a way to recover it on his site.  I also couldn’t remember my password, but you can recover that too.  Fortunately I still have the email address I was using back in 2002 when I bought my current copy.  (I had to rebuy it in a similar situation back then because I did not have the previous email address.)

I was able to run through that and register my copy of ZMud again, but when I went to actually run it, it errored out on a memory addressing issue.  And, of course, Zugg has been very clear on support for ZMud on Windows 7 and beyond:

Because of the new release of Windows 7, we are getting more and more questions about this. So I wanted to make a sticky topic to make this perfectly clear:

zMUD is not supported on Vista, or Windows 7, or any other future version of Windows. Use CMUD instead.

zMUD was originally written for Windows 3.1, then Windows 95. zMUD was kludged to run on Windows XP. Some people might be able to force zMUD to run on Vista and Windows 7, but it is not supported. Beyond just installation and running problems, there are other severe memory limits and other problems with zMUD on newer versions of Windows.

The newer CMUD client was written from scratch specifically for Windows XP, Vista, and newer versions of Windows. CMUD is the only client that is fully supported by Zugg Software at this time.

But I was not deterred.  I have made it run on Win7 before.  I set it up for WinXP compatibility and, when that did not do the trick, set it to run as Administrator, the usual “make it work” solution for older software.

Just work, would you?

That was enough to get it going and I was able to launch, log in, and get the mapper running so I could find my way around.

ZMud lives!

Man, that UI is straight out of 1997, but it works!

And with that I was set.  I could run out to the Elemental Glades and begin work on that post.

So there it is, probably a new low in writing, a post about the work I did so I could write another post.

But I am happy to have ZMud up and running again and there is always the temptation to start playing TorilMUD some more.  We shall see.  First I need an xp group because I deliberately died a bunch of times at one point and dropped from level 50 to level 47.  Those last levels were easy to lose back in the day (you no longer lose levels now) but hard to get back, and you need a group to do it.