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Not all MUDs are games; some are designed for educational purposes, while others are purely chat environments, and the flexible nature of many MUD servers leads to their occasional use in areas ranging from computer science research to geoinformatics to medical informatics to analytical chemistry.

Most MUDs are run as hobbies and are free to players; some may accept donations or allow players to purchase virtual items, while others charge a monthly subscription fee.

The game was significantly expanded in 1976 by Don Woods.

Also called Adventure, it contained many D&D features and references, including a computer controlled dungeon master.

MUDs can be accessed via standard telnet clients, or specialized MUD clients which are designed to improve the user experience.

Such fantasy settings for MUDs are common, while many others have science fiction settings or are based on popular books, movies, animations, periods of history, worlds populated by anthropomorphic animals, and so on.

Klietz wrote a game called Milieu using Multi-Pascal on a CDC Cyber 6600 series mainframe which was operated by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium.

Klietz ported Milieu to an IBM XT in 1983, naming the new port Scepter of Goth.

Neil Newell, an avid MUD1 player, started programming his own MUD called SHADES during Christmas 1985, because MUD1 was closed down during the holidays.

Starting out as a hobby, SHADES became accessible in the UK as a commercial MUD via British Telecom's Prestel and Micronet networks.1985 saw the origin of a number of projects inspired by the original MUD.