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Hackmud Is An MMO Hacking Sim With A 90s Vibe

My password is "chair"

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.

Cover image for YouTube video

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.

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About the Author
Brendan Caldwell avatar

Brendan Caldwell

Former Features Editor

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.