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11:03am on Friday, 31st August, 2007:

Purveyors of Fine, Online Games until 2007


I received this today from Companies House:

MUSE was the company that Roy Trubshaw and I set up in 1985 to create and market MUD. We were to do the programming; the business side was to be handled by Simon Dally, who also held a stake (as did his previous employers, the book publishers now known as Random House). The programming went well, but the business didn't. From around 2000 onwards, the company was pretty well moribund, existing only for three reasons: 1) to keep the intellectual property in one place; 2) to accept royalties from the existing MUD2 sites; 3) so I could claim VAT back off the computer games bought through it.

These reasons gradually disappeared. 1) was only necessary when we dealt with other companies — were MUSE to shut down, the rights to MUD2 would revert to Roy and me. Given that at the end, MUSE was owned 45% by me, 45% by Roy and 10% by Random House, this meant that if we closed the company down we'd end up in a better position rights-wise than if we kept it open.

Reason 2) went away when the MUD2 sites in operation (mud2.com and mudii.co.uk) went free. They were taking so little money that the bookkeeping overheads were higher than the profits, and the fact that the games were pay-to-play was making it hard to attract newbies. Now, they're run as hobbies rather than as business operations.

Reason 3) would have been fine were it not for the cost of hiring an accountant to do the yearly audit, which more than wiped out the money I got back from the VAT people. This is what finally tipped me over the edge into closing the company down — I was having to pay too much of my own money to keep it open. Roy and I were owed tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid royalties, so we split what was left in the bank account in lieu of this, then MUSE could close without any debts (one of the conditions of closure that Companies House requires). I took over mud.co.uk, as I'd bought it and paid for it right from the beginning.

Am I sad to see MUSE close? Yes, of course: you don't work for a compny for 22 years and not have some fond memories of it. Its time had come and gone, though.

Ohwell, at least I can at last claim the front page of mud.co.uk for myself.

Referenced by Back to BT.

Referenced by Where I Work #11.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).