An interview with Jay Levino (Onivel) posted on Mud Connector in 1995.
1. Jedi has been around for a LONG time, how did the idea for the mud come about and who were the original creators?
The main predecessor to JediMUD was CircleMUD, run by Jeremy Elson (also known as Rasmussen or Ras). The original creators of JediMUD were Fred Merkel (Torg) and me (Onivel). All of the original high level players on JediMUD came from Circle. Ras, having grown weary of player politics, moved over as a principal coder and really gave the MUD a very dynamic feel. Torg hosted the game locally at a Johns Hopkins' site, and I pulled together the entire Star Wars theme.
2. Anyone who visits the rec.games.mud.diku newsgroup knows there were some rough times in the past with Jedi, can you summarize the problems you experienced?
Jedi has experienced quite a few difficulties in the past, and even now has a great many obstacles to overcome. Torg and I had irreconcilable differences and the MUD itself "split". That is, they each went their separate ways with a copy of the code and let the pieces fall as they may. This incarnation of Jedi left the JHU site and has site-hopped from stimpy.psy.jhu.edu, to marble.bu.edu, to seahag.jpl.nasa.gov, to some place at uiowa.edu and finally, to america.net. What a long strange (and frustrating) trip it's been!
We wanted a place that would not only accept a MUD, but saw it in a positive light, and we've really found that with Access America. Many players disliked the Imp and Co-Imps, and there were a lot of personal, fiery disputes, as well as a lot of frustration at the constant site-hopping.
3. In your opinion what makes Jedi so popular? Why do the players stick around and what do you think is the driving force for the players' loyalty?
Without a doubt, and you'll find this echoed *by* the players, it's the players themselves that make Jedi a popular game. Our players come to Jedi to "hack'n'slash", to slaughter multitudes of electronic bits, all in the company of their friends. When our players get together on a busy night, personalities just seem to click and before you know it, the gossip channel is lit up like a Christmas tree with jokes back and forth. There are precious few Diku MUDs running today that can lay claim to the kind of rich history that longtime Jedi players have shared. We have laughed together, cried together and shared unique experiences. At it's best and at it's worst, Jedi has always been about people coming together to enjoy a shared experience.
On the strictly game side of the coin, Jedi is relatively straight forward and uncomplicated. Many MUDs have all sorts of features that can really confuse new players. It's nice to have features that the players can use once they have adapted to playing in the environment, such as aliases, combat mode blocking for slower connections, etc. We make these features available, but for the standard character just starting out, the defaults are very simple and understandable.
4. Where do you see JediMud in 5-10 years? Any plans for vrml code to be incorporated once it becomes mainstream?
We hope to stabilize Jedi and really build a strong foundation for the game so that it progresses smoothly throughout the next few years. Had we heard a question like this three years ago, we'd have probably laughed it off. I don't think anyone expected the game to go on this long. Many nights we'd call each other on the phone to lament one problem or another and the "Let's just take the game down" sentiment would invariably come up. But as we've grown older and grown with the game, the emotional keel of dealing with it has grown more stable.
Primarily our first focus is to make the game as dynamic as it used to be; to have continuously evolving (and stable!) MUD code and to make the game, as a whole, much more responsive to the player and to player ideas and input. We're far from that goal right now, but working steadily to get there.
As for VRML development, well, we're just going to see where VRML goes. :-) It's most certainly a possibility. Our primary focus is to get the game stabilized and responsive to player input. Meanwhile, Romulus plans to keep an eye on VRML and she will nudge us into whatever other aspects of the Internet she discovers, much in the way JediMUD's WWW presence was brought about.
5. How has running and being involved with JediMUD affected your life? What has it changed? In short form, if it weren't for JediMUD I wouldn't be getting married, I wouldn't have the job that I have, I'd have fewer good friends and I'd never have bought a Saturn as my first car.
I first met my fiancee (change to wife after 10/7/95) in real life at a gathering of JediMUDers at Cedar Point in the summer of 1993. After getting to talk to her on the game, then on the phone, then meeting her in person, well, things just took off at that point. Even if I ignored all of the other good things that have happened in my life because of JediMUD, this one thing has made all of that work worthwhile.
Second, when I first began working on JediMUD, I couldn't program my way out of a paper bag. While there are some who say that I still can't, the knowledge gained from working on JediMUD's code and from using the Internet was enough to land me a job as a senior programmer for a software engineering company. Sure, ServiceWare, Inc. had tons of resumes from perspective programmers, but the fact that I had 'hard' experience in programming software that has been used by literally hundreds of people really got their attention.
Because of JediMUD, I have made a great number of friends that I regularly keep in touch with. Romulus and I hang out together every few weeks. I've been to Atlanta to hang out with Doc, Baltimore to see with Ras, Detroit to visit Kinski and Moonbeam... the list goes on and on. I decided to buy a Saturn after falling in love with Romulus's -- she STILL cons me into changing her oil or waxing it or whatever else needs to be done. It's been said that mudders are losers who couldn't survive in real life. I don't agree. The losers are those MUDders who can't keep virtual reality and real life in perspective.
Yes, running Jedi can be a real hassle and every member of the admin team has been tempted to walk away more than once. However, the good things that have come from being a part of JediMUD far outweigh the bad ones, at least for me.