Tutorial: How to MOO
What is a MOO anyway? A MOO can be thought of as an electronic
virtual environment. It is a collection of described locations,
objects, and characters, arranged in a discrete, virtual architecture
inside a computer's memory. As you traverse the MOO, you navigate
your persona through the rooms of this electronic space, typing
things like "go library" if, for example, you see a door into
a library. Each new room or environment will be described by text
(and sometimes with images) on your screen, and you can type "look"
to examine things more carefully. Objects that you see can be
picked up and manipulated (books can be read, food can be eaten,
notes can be written and given to other participants in the MOO).
The commands to do these things are basically intuitive and are
not difficult to learn. For all you need to get started, click
the "getting started" link.
A MOO can be thought of as a site of active, rather than passive,
reading. Participation in a MOO involves the same two basic activities
as reading and taking notes in a book—as you MOO, you will read,
and you will write in response to what you have read. Participants
read descriptions of locations, objects, characters, and other
participants, and they read what the other characters and participants
have to say. Their writing consists of simple commands, and also
of dialogue, as they interact with one another and with the objects
and characters in the MOO. To use Barthes's term, a MOO demonstrates
perhaps the most "writerly" text possible—reading text and interpretive
interaction with text are interlocked in ways that are intuitive
and immediately apparent to the student. Narrative within a MOO
space is intrinsically collaborative, arising from the MOO author's
textual space and the user's (reader's) response to that space.
"Reading" in a MOO is a significantly experiential activity.
A MOO can be thought of as a playground. Like a playground, a
MOO provides space for interaction, directed learning, and play.
This space is not an empty tabula rasa; it is organized in ways
that suggest or encourage certain types of activity. Much as a
real playground's space is subdivided (into sandbox, swing set,
jungle gym, etc) a MOO's rooms have unique attributes and qualities,
and these spaces contain objects which encourage various types
of interaction. Also like a playground, there is no predetermined
goal to accomplish in a MOO; there is no way to "win" or "lose.
Just as a physical swing set may suggest the activity of swinging,
a MOO's spaces and objects only imply certain uses and responses.
You can swing on a swing set, or you can invent your own use for
the swings that has nothing to do with swinging. The same is true
of a MOO's spaces and objects. It provides a venue within which
games may be invented and played—it is not itself a single
game. Notice that this parallels the activity of literary interpretation
in provocative ways. Students can enact and experiment with various
responses to the text space of the MOO, and refine and modify
their responses in reaction to and collaboration with the interpretive
community formed by the other MOO participants. For, like playing
on a playground, MOOing is not a solitary activity. Much of what
you do inside a MOO is interact with other MOO participants, engage
in dialog, discuss, explore, play, learn.
Getting Into the MOO
NOTE: The Villa Diodati MOO was for a time available in a hybrid Web-MOO interface via the Encore platform. It remains online and accessible in text-only form via telnet. In consequence, some of the Encore-specific instructions below are no longer accurate, and will be changed in due time.
PuTTY is a free telnet client for Windows and Unix, and can be downloaded here; Some free Mac telnet clients can be found here.
1. Go to <telnet://www.rc.umd.edu:7000/>
2. A log-in screen will appear.
You will log in as a Guest. Do not enter anything in the ID or
password boxes. The ID box should say "Guest" and the password
box should be left blank. Simply click the gray "login" button
on the left hand side of the screen.
3. A split screen will pop up (Give it time to load).
On the top are helpful buttons. On the left is the conversation
going on. Choose the "normal" radio button to describe
actions. Choose "say" to speak in the MOO. Choose "emote"
to let your character express an emotion. At the right is what
you see in the room. Characters will be represented by an avatar
icon. Objects will have representative icons. Doors to other rooms
will be represented by an arrow icon.
Registering Your Own Character
To avoid being bumped off of the MOO as a guest, sign up for
a character identity. Here's three ways to do it:
1. Before logging in as guest, click on the "Create Account"
button at the bottom left-hand frame of your browser. Fill out
the New Character Creation Form and send it. Do not use blank
spaces in your user ID name.
2. Log in as a guest. Once you are logged in, click the "Request"
button at the top of your MOO window. Fill out the New Character
Creation Form and send it. Do not use blank spaces in your user
3. Log in as a guest. Once you are logged in, click your cursor
in the bottom left-hand frame of your browser, type "@request,"
and then follow the directions.
Once you have completed the on-line request process, it will
take the server approximately five to ten minutes to process your
request and then your new account information will be sent to
the e-mail address that you entered in the request.
When requesting a character, please remember that this is an
educational MOO and that scholarly exchanges generally work better
when others in the MOO know who you are; so, we suggest that you
use your real name as your character name. Non-registered users
can browse the MOO non-interactively using any Web Browser at
Using MOO Commands: (important commands have an asterisk)
1. *To talk, either click the "say" radio button and
type your comment in the bottom left hand corner of the screen
in the blank box, or use quotation marks before and after what
you want to say in "normal" (default) mode. For example,
to say hi, type "hi" then
2. *To look around at the room, type the word look
in the blank box (make sure you are in "normal" or default
mode). To examine an object type "examine <object name>".
For example, to examine a lake type: examine
lake. For an easy way to look and get a basic description
of an object, see number six below.
3. To emote, that is to show an expression or action, either
click the "emote" radio button and describe your emotion
in the blank box, or use a colon before the words expressing your
action while in "normal" (default) mode. For example,
if I want to smile, I type :smiles.
4. If you see an object and want to take it, type take
<object name> (make sure you are in "normal"
or default mode). For example, take flower.
This allows me to pluck a flower. To drop an object, type drop
<object name>, such as drop
flower. Note: it is good etiquette to return things
where you found them after you are done with the object!
5. At the most basic level of interaction, all you need to do
is look and talk. Anything else is extra which you can learn as
you gain experience.
6. *The right hand side of the screen has several features. It
gives you a description of what you are looking at. You can click
on an object and this will allow you to examine the object. Most
objects are denoted with an icon looking like a generic blocky
object. To look at the whole room type "look" or use
the look button on the tool bar at the top of the screen. To move
to another room, click the room name next to the door icon.
7. At the top of your screen is a tool bar, which looks like
What these buttons do:
About: details of the MOO program
Help: a range of help links from basic maneuvering to MOO
Look: shows you the room you are in
Who: shows you what other players are in the MOO
Options: Allows you to create a MOO name, choose a gender,
and offer a description of your character
Guide: some basic and not so basic MOO commands
Request:an easy form for requesting a permanent character
Quit: end your MOO session
You will also find helpful hints at Cynthia Haynes and Jan Rune
Guide to MOOing."