to run your own BBS and MUD
Using Synchronet and DoorMUD
What you will need:
This web document was not written or endorsed by the author of Synchronet. This text was written by a third party to supplement Synchronet's existing documentation and help new sysops set up the software in order to run a MUD and other games.
If you encounter any problems setting up your BBS and MUD, please e-mail the author of this text -- Evan Elias (email@example.com).
Synchronet v3 is a powerful BBS program written by Robert Swindell (firstname.lastname@example.org). Synchronet includes built-in TCP/IP features like telnet (up to 250 telnet lines), FTP, and internet mail. It is completely FREE, with no hidden costs or gimmicks. It is actively supported by its author. In addition, the source code for the entire program is now freely available, so skilled programmers can fully modify any aspect of the BBS if desired.
Download Synchronet v3.00c -- SBBS300C.ZIP (4.7MB).
Unzip this file to any directory, and run setup.exe. It is recommended that you install Synchronet to the default directory, "c:\sbbs". If you use a different directory, you will have to manually edit a few files (EXEC\VERT.BAT, EXEC\TIMED.BAT, and TEXT\BULLSEYE.CFG) so that they use the proper directory; this should only take a minute to do, so it's not really a problem. But please note that the rest of this document assumes that you have used "c:\sbbs" for Synchronet's directory.
After setup.exe has finished installation, a shortcut to the program should have been added to your desktop, as well as to your Windows start-up folder. The latter will cause Synchronet to automatically start-up every time you boot up your computer; if you don't want this to happen, then from the Windows start menu go to Programs >> Start-up and delete the shortcut to Synchronet there.
To run Synchronet, click the desktop shortcut, which should point to "c:\sbbs\exec\sbbsctrl.exe" -- the main Synchronet console. The first time you run this program, it might prompt you for the location of Synchronet's config file; if you used "c:\sbbs" as your install directory, the config file will be "c:\sbbs\ctrl\main.cnf".
You can now begin customizing your Synchronet BBS. You should see four windows open in the console -- node display, telnet server, ftp server, and mail server. The latter three each have a configuration icon, which looks like a gear.
Click the gear in the telnet server window to configure it. You should enable "minimize externals". You will also need to increase the "last node" option later, but don't worry about that yet, it's one of the last things you configure.
For the mail and FTP servers, configure them according to your proper internet settings. If you don't know how to configure a mail server or FTP server, you may want to just disable them for now by un-clicking the "Auto Startup" configuration option in each.
Using the SCFG configuration program:
Now, you can begin to configure the bulk of the BBS's options. This is done through SCFG, Synchronet's configuration program. To run SCFG, go to the "BBS" menu in the console and click "configure". At the moment SCFG is still a 16-bit DOS program, so the interface is a little old-fashioned. The developer of Synchronet is currently working on a Windows version of SCFG, but at the moment you're stuck with the DOS one. Since SCFG is still a DOS program, please remember NOT to close it by clicking the "X" Windows icon for closing applications. The proper way to exit SCFG is to hit the Escape key from the main menu, so that changes you've made are saved.
SCFG allows you to configure almost any aspect of the BBS. The vital settings are explained here in this web document. The rest are all explained in depth in Synchronet's documentation, available online at http://vert.synchro.net/docs/index.htm. The main documentation file is http://vert.synchro.net/docs/sysop.html.
To add more nodes (telnet lines), select "nodes" from SCFG's main menu. To add a new node, hit the Insert key on your keyboard. Use the default settings when creating nodes. You can add as many as you want (by repeatedly hitting the Insert key), but for now you'll probably only need 10 at most. Add more later as needed. When you're done adding nodes, hit the Escape key (or click the box in the corner of the nodes window) to return to SCFG's main menu.
From SCFG's main menu, select "system" to enter a menu which allows you to set your BBS's name, location, system password, and other options. Be sure to remember what you used for the system password!
Removing extra external programs menus (optional):
By default, when users select the games/external programs option on your board's menu, the BBS gives the user a choice of three sub-menus: "Main", "Games", and "Other Synchronet Systems". Most users will only use the "Games" sub-menu, so you may wish to delete the other two sub-menus. To do this, from SCFG's main menu select "external programs" and then from there select "online programs". Use the arrow keys to highlight "Main" (but don't click/select it), and then hit the delete key on your keyboard. Do the same with "Other Synchronet Systems". This will permanently delete these two sub-menus. After doing this, whenever users select games/external programs from your BBS's main menu, they will be sent directly to the Games menu instead of being prompted for things like "main" or "other synchronet systems".
Synchronet also comes with a small selection of free games. Try them out at your leisure, and then remove whichever ones you don't like.
Setting up Worldgroup-style menus (optional):
Setting up your BBS to look like a MajorBBS/Worldgroup board is extremely easy. You simply need to grab some menus. First, download major.bin (1k) and save this as "c:\sbbs\exec\major.bin", overwriting the older copy of major.bin there. Then, download main.asc (1k) and save this as "c:\sbbs\text\menu\major\main.asc", overwriting the older one.
After doing this, in SCFG go to System >> New User Values >> Command shell and select "Major". Then go into System >> New User Values >> Question Toggles and set "Command Shell" to "No". This will cause all new users will get the MajorBBS / Worldgroup command shell by default. This is recommended only if you plan on gearing your BBS towards people who are used to MajorBBS/Worldgroup systems.
Completing the setup:
You can now exit SCFG; be sure to select "save changes" if you are prompted. Your BBS is almost ready now, but there's still two more things you must do. First, in the Telnet Server window of the Synchronet console, click the gear (config icon) and increase the "Last Node" option to exactly however many nodes you set up in SCFG. This will allow the Telnet Server to accept calls for higher node numbers. (However, DO NOT set the "last node" setting higher than however many nodes you set up in SCFG, because you will get error messages). Finally, click the stop button (the square) on the Telnet server, and then after that click the play button (the arrow). This refreshes your node data and reloads the configuration settings. You MUST do this (stop then start on the telnet server) every time you're done editing things in SCFG, otherwise your configuration changes will not take effect immediately. Make sure you do this in the *Telnet Server* window, NOT the node display window.
Your Synchronet board is now configured and usable. If you want to test it out, simply open up your favorite telnet client and connect to "localhost" (ie, telnet://localhost). Make sure you set up an account yourself before you start giving out your telnet address. The first account made on a Synchronet board automatically gets special sysop options, so you will want that to be your own account.
DoorMUD is an affordable new MUD game for BBS systems. The full version of DoorMUD isn't free (it's shareware), but it has a free trial version lets you get a very good look at the game to decide whether or not you want to buy it. You can run the free trial version as long as you want (it never "expires"), and it allows for up to 4 people to play at once, with characters being able to train up to level 7.
To allow players to train beyond level 7, you must register DoorMUD. The "basic" registered version costs only $20, and allows 4 simultaneous users. The "professional" add-on costs $40 more (so that's only $60 total -- still significantly cheaper than other bbs muds) and allows up to 16 simultaneous users, and adds some extra config options as well. Several other add-ons are currently under development, including a full World Editor program.
You can download the latest version of DoorMUD from the sysop page on the DoorMUD web site -- http://dmud.thebbs.org/sysop.htm. The file you want is dmud097s.zip (298k) -- the 32-bit Windows version. After downloading this file, unzip it to a new directory (such as "c:\doormud", or another directory of your choice), and then consult the README.TXT file for full information on installing DoorMUD. README.TXT is included with the DoorMUD zip file, and is very short, as the game is easy to install.
Be sure to add the program to SCFG's "OS/2 Program List", as described in README.TXT. This lets Synchronet detect DoorMUD as a 32-bit Windows program. (The reason that SCFG still says "OS/2" instead of "Windows" is because SCFG is an older DOS program. Don't worry about that, just pretend it says "Windows Program List" instead.)
After you're done with the installation, telnet into your BBS and try out the game.
Full DoorMUD area maps, item lists, spell lists, FAQs, etc (as well as a message board) are available at the official DoorMUD web site -- http://dmud.thebbs.org.
If you don't have your own domain name or static IP address, you will need a dynamic DNS service. This will give you a steady telnet address (ie, telnet://xxxx.dyndns.org) for your callers to use to connect to your system. There are several free dynamic DNS services available on the web. I recommend trying either www.dyndns.org or www.dtdns.net. Instructions are provided on the site of whichever service you choose.
Once you have a steady telnet address for your system -- whether it's a domain name, a static IP, or dynamic DNS -- you can now start telling others your telnet address. The best way to advertise is word of mouth; contact other MUD players and tell them your telnet address. Also, try advertising on Aragon's DoorMUD Forum.
Your BBS is now fully configured, as is your MUD.
You may want to download a few other doorgames as well, although you can always wait until later to try this. Most doorgames are shareware, with registration costing somewhere between $15 to $25. The ones that require registration almost always have a fully-playable demo mode.
Some popular doorgames include:
Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD) -- An old favorite of many BBS users. It's essentially a simple RPG with a menu-based interface. The doorgame version costs only $15 to register, and has far more features and available add-ons than the MajorBBS/Worldgroup version.
Trade Wars 2002 -- A classic futuristic strategy game. The doorgame version is nearly identical to the MajorBBS/Worldgroup one, except the doorgame version has far less bugs and costs a lot less to register (only $25).
Usurper -- Similar to LORD but with a lot more features and levels. Tends to be fairly popular on a lot of boards.
Please note that some of these doors were programmed with an old version of Turbo Pascal which had a flaw in one of its delay routines. This flaw can prevent older Pascal programs from running on Pentium systems. If you encounter a "run-time error 200" message when you try to run one of these doors, download tppatch.zip and follow instructions provided.
To search for more doorgames, please browse through http://www.doorgames.org and http://archives.thebbs.org.