As you may know, I often play an online text-based game called Achaea, which is one of the deepest MUDs I’ve ever personally played. And unlike most graphical MMOs, there are a variety of clients you can use to connect to any given MUD. Some of the most popular clients include zMUD or Mudlet – and you could even connect through plain telnet – but I prefer MUSHclient by far.
MUSHclient, authored by Nick Gammon, has been in existence for over ten years, and is still constantly developed and supported to this day. One of the main reasons I enjoy it so much is because it exposes an incredible amount of functionality through a scripting interface. You can use any of a number of languages, including Lua, VBscript, and Jscript, so long as they can be installed into the Windows Script Host. (Lua is an exception; support is baked directly into MUSHclient). Plugins, consisting of XML files containing triggers, aliases, script sections, and other items, can be created and distributed, which helps players of a specific MUD to create useful extensions specific to their MUD and pass them around.
MUSHclient is also open-source. You can download the source, compile it, tinker with it, and even (if you so desired) distribute your own version. Nick is great about suggestions, though, and more often than not, sensible suggestions will be incorporated into the next version. And since MUSHclient’s source is hosted on GitHub, you can easily fork the source and create a patch yourself, saving Nick the work if he decides to add the idea. (If he doesn’t, you’ve got your own custom MUSHclient build anyways)
But on to the main point: MUSHclient is also my primary development environment. Sound strange? Well, maybe. But I’ve done more concrete programming/scripting since I began using MUSHclient than ever before, meaning I’m getting a load of good experience even while I have fun with it. I’ve written a simple state machine for telnet sequences. I’ve written a serialization module to pass data between plugins (which might even be written in different scripting languages). I’m even working, albeit slowly, on a GUI framework that takes full advantage of MUSHclient’s “miniwindows” functionality, which allows you to draw graphical elements to the screen. I can honestly say I’d never have done anything like this if I hadn’t heard about MUSHclient.
I’ll frequently be posting about my escapades with MUSHclient, so if that’s your kind of thing, watch this space.