Hackmud Is An MMO Hacking Sim With A 90s Vibe

One of the silly hidden features of Hacknet was the ability to open your own CD tray with a typed command. The creator said this was a hangover from an unfinished multiplayer mode, whereby players could freak each other out by opening their opponents’ CD trays. That vision of multiplayer digital trespass sadly did not come to pass, but perhaps this can scratch that cyperpunk itch. Hackmud [official site] is a ‘massively-multiplayer hacking sim’ and it has just been released. Go put on your best hacker sunglasses and come back to watch the trailer.

Like a lot of other terminal-based hackers, you’ll have to type commands, execute scripts, guess passwords and pilfer money by transferring it electronically to your own shell accounts. There’s a single-player element to it as you start off stuck in a virtual LAN unable to reach the greater internet. To escape you have to prove yourself to The Trust – an all-powerful AI that runs things. There you’ll meet other lesser AIs and work together to figure it all out. A plot which reminds me of the gentle Digital: A Love Story.

But it’s the promise of a “user-created multiplayer world” hidden beneath all the codes and commands that has me hacking through its tutorial right now. Taking elements from the MUDs of yore, this one says you’ll need to “use real-world hacking skills (social engineering, cracking, research, scripting…) for power and influence in the M.U.D. at large.” There’s to be a fully-scriptable world with a “player-based economy and in-game botting.” That means you’ll be hacking other folks and stealing all their bit-monies. It sounds a little ambitious but I’m keen to see how it actually works.

Most of all I hope script kiddies like me aren’t excluded from the fun by tough coding challenges a la the javascript-heavy Screeps. I’m about an hour deep and thankfully it’s not that difficult thus far – there’s a chatroom of earnest and cheery NPCs working together like they’re the Hardy Boys, and I’ve learned there’s a uniform way of typing commands – but I want to break out of the isolated tutorial and roam around the internet, downloading other players’ viruses and getting duped into giving them my passwords. That’s the sense of 90s digital discovery that I remember. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you want to find me and delete me from the internet, Hackmud is out now on itch.io, Humble Bundle and Steam.


  1. Massenstein says:

    MUD that costs money seems like a weird thing on this age where we still have many active, free muds and new ones are being created.

    Not saying it’s wrong, I mean I want devs to get money. I just would expect commercial mud to be super, super good.

    • Artist says:

      To be honest – this game isnt a MUD at all. Not even closely related. Its an online game with a hacking theme and scripting.

    • wykydtronik says:

      Interested in learning more about the old and new ones in development.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Thre’s a limit to the amount of links one can post here, I think, so Google for:

        BatMUD, Achaea, Aetolia, Imperian, Lusternia

        The last 4 are all by Iron Realms. They’ve been around for yonks, but all actively maintained and with active players. BatMUD comes with its own (optional) graphical client that works quite well if you’re into fancy presentation.

        • Harlander says:

          I’ve got an ongoing love-hate fascination with Cybersphere despite it having been in a very long slow death spiral for the better part of a decade.

      • Domopunk says:

        Initium has popped up in reddit threads every now and then. It’s a MUDish browser game that’s still in development.

        I used to love playing AVATAR MUD back in the day. I think it might still be around…

      • lordcooper says:

        http://www.armageddon.org if you’re more into roleplay than hack & slash.

  2. caff says:

    Oh gawd, I remember MUDs from the late 90’s. They were more terrifying than IRC.

    • Risingson says:

      Do you know when you ate talking about these things and then a friend that works in IT asks :”IRC? what’s that?”. Happened to me yesterday

      • Subv3rse says:

        All the damn time. :/ “Oh, like a java chatroom?”

      • Sizeable Dirk says:

        And I thought IRC got a huge resurgence, especially with the tech and coder crowds. Since other instant messaging/chat systems for desktops just died off or consolidated into questionable corporate services when the public went to easier web or mobile-centric stuff.
        Liber Abaci.

  3. thither says:

    Kudos to the developer for pricing this game at $13.37 in the US.