I’m a hacker. Ok, not really. But I feel like one when playing Hackmud. I know, it is basically cheating (since I am not hacking anything for real) but it is also completely legal and I don’t have to worry about the police or anything (since I am not hacking anything for real – go figure).
Hackmud? What’s it about?
Hackmud is kind of an oldschool game. If you’ve been around as long as I, you might remember MUDs (Multi User Dungeons/Dimensions) or MUSHs, the online games one was playing before Meridian 59, Ultima Online, and Everquest saw the light of day … and long before World of Warcraft. Now, Hackmud calls itself a “cyberpunk themed text-based hacking simulator for intel-compatible personal home computers” and basically is a MUD. That means that you’ll eventually meet and play with/against other people.
Also, and let me say it upfront: The game is not an instruction manual for hacking (though some skills along the line can apparently be gained). It’s fun nonetheless and really gives you the feeling like you are hacking. I’ve barely completed the tutorial but already feel rather accomplished. I am also slightly confused, because Hackmud has a steep learning curve – if you have no previous programming knowledge.
Sounds intriguing. Can you tell me more?
Sure thing! The game starts easy enough though and just wants you to enter a username. You are only allowed to use numbers, letters and underscores, so wanna be cool ubercool names like “l3go1@s” will need to stay at home. Anyway. I choose a username and the screen turns red immediately. I also see a countdown. Did I do something wrong? My heart starts to beat faster. What’s happening? A system breach?! Luckily I am told that I can attempt system recovery by running sys.status. Simple enough, the day is saved. It was a close call though – and I am hooked.
The tutorial is all about me (a sentient AI) proving to “Trust” the big boss system that I am actually sentient and then breaking out of the virtual LAN. It takes a good while to really understand what to do because after the first stunt am kind of left alone. There is no list of commands I can run, so I try “help” the one thing that comes to mind and that works almost everywhere. And work it does. From there on the tutorial takes me by the hand again to teach me, everything about keys, parameters, values, chat channels, scripts – those are really important – and what I need to do to get out in the world, the multi-user domain. The commands you will need to enter get more complicated with little riddles/puzzles in between to figure out passwords, keys, etc.
Isn’t that rather dry?
Not really. Throughout the tutorial I was never bored once. It is well paced with a nice story that makes learning all the commands rather interesting and engaging. Now that I am out in the world things might change. Will it keep me entertained enough to keep playing? I guess I will find out soon – and perhaps we’ll meet one another in the multi-user domain at some point. 😉
By the way: Hackmud is available for 13,37 € / 13,37 $ on Steam. Yup, it’s that 1337. kkthxbye.