• Development and history

The making of DikuMUD was first announced on Usenet by Hans Henrik Stærfeldt March 27, 1990. At the time Tom Madsen, Sebastian Hammer, and Stærfeldt were the only developers, joined by Michael Seifert in June 1990. Stærfeldt stated that their intention was to create a MUD that was less messy than AberMUD, less buggy than LPMud, and more like Dungeons & Dragons.

The first DikuMUD was in working development as early as October 1990 and officially opened publicly running at freja.diku.dk port 4000 on February 3, 1991.

A second DikuMUD appeared in January 1991, running at hayes.ims.alaska.edu. In March 1991, the first public version of DikuMUD, known as Diku Gamma, became available at beowulf.acc.stolaf.edu. Afterwards the DikuMUD at freja.diku.dk was shut down and the game and development moved to alfa.me.chalmers.se.

Other Diku Gamma MUDs appeared in March 1991 running at eris.berkeley.edu, followed by a multiprocessor version running at sequent.berkeley.edu. By early April 1991, there were DikuMUDs running at spam.ua.oz.augoldman.gnu.ai.mit.edubigboy.cis.temple.edu, and elof.iit.edu.

Until 2020 the last official release of DikuMUD was Diku Alfa in July 1991.

After 1991 Hans Henrik Stærfeldt and Michael Seifert hereafter continued with the development of Diku II and were joined first by Lars Balker Rasmussen and later by Ken Perry and Tim Perry.  Among major components Hans Henrik added a compiler that would parse world files as well as a “DIL” coding language allowing world-builders to script their zones . Michael added a DIL byte code interpreter as well as a Dijkstra shortest path algorithm to allow NPCs moving around and Eliza the MUD therapist. Diku II also features significantly enhanced game system (inspired also by RMSS), guilds, a mail system, smart NPCs, and quests.

In 1994 Michael Seifert made a sponsorship agreement with the beer company Tuborg.  In return for selling virtual Tuborg in a virtual Inn, Tuborg would sponsor the setup a Diku II dial-up server in Copenhagen. The dial-up service ran in Michael’s closet in Denmark for several years until the Internet became more pervasive for home users. Diku II thus became the first publicly available MMO in Denmark. The Tuborg beer can still be found in the GitHub version of DikuMUD II.

In 1996 Michael Seifert moved to California, USA and setup DikuMUD II as Valhalla.com running on a local Internet server with the intent to try to further commercialize the game. The first such attempts included a small monthly fee from users. But that strategy was quickly scrapped because it essentially moved the player base to other free (Diku) MUDs. After a few other attempts a workable model was found whereby players could buy virtual items, such as e.g. equipment or homes.

Diku II has continued to run since 1994 under the name of Valhalla MUD and has been operated by Ken Perry since 1998.

The Valhalla MUD logo was chosen from a competition among MUD players and Hans-Henrik Stærfeldt designed the artwork inside the logo.  The Danish consultancy Pentia which was founded by Michael Seifert uses the base Valhalla MUD logo without the artwork.  The logo with the artwork was also coincidentally “borrowed” by the Royal Danish Theater for their outdoor play “Thor” which was setup in Dyrehavsbakken in 2006.

In February 2020 the original DikuMUD authors (except Tom Madsen which is out-of-contact) re-released the DikuMUD Gamma and DikuMUD Alfa sources under LGPL.  The DikuMUD II from December 1997 is going to be released onto GitHub. December 1997 was the last time Michael Seifert worked on the code.  Hereafter Ken and Tim Perry continued the development of DikuMUD II / Valhalla MUD.

Look in developer updates to see the current status.