Zugg Software Affiliate System


NOTE: Please notice that the bidding process ends this year at 8:00 PM Eastern time on Friday night, Feb 29th 2008 (unlike previous years when bidding ended at midnight).  This time change was requested by several people last year to allow MUDs in Europe a better chance to bid.  The time and day of the week was chosen to be as fair as possible to cover MUDs in both the U.S. and Europe (the main users of zMUD/CMUD).

For the 2008 icon bidding process, you are bidding on icons for BOTH zMUD AND CMUD.  In other words, the top ten bids that win will get their icons loaded into both zMUD and the new CMUD client that was released last year.

What does this mean?  It means that the icon bids for 2008 are much more important than in the past.  Icons are only installed into zMUD and CMUD when the software is first installed.  Thus, if someone is already a user of zMUD, they only see the icons that were installed when they first ran zMUD and will not see any new icons.  For example, if they bought zMUD in 2005, then they only see the 2005 top-ten icons and not the 2008 icons.

But since EVERY installation of the new CMUD client is considered a new install, EVERYONE who installs CMUD this year will get the new 2008 top-ten icons, regardless of whether they were using zMUD in the past or not.  Since over 5,000 customers are expected to upgrade to CMUD this year (based upon past upgrade statistics), that is 5,000 existing zMUD customers that will see your 2008 icons in CMUD who would not have seen your icons if they kept using zMUD.

So, in a sense, you are getting double-value for your icon bids in 2008.  Whether or not we continue to make the top-ten icons in zMUD and CMUD the same in future years depends upon the fraction of people still using zMUD instead of CMUD.

Icon Tracking Feature

CMUD has a new feature designed to benefit the MUDs with startup icons.  When a player connects to your MUD, a Telnet option called TERMTYPE can be used to determine what kind of "terminal" the player is connecting with.  When they connect using zMUD, a TERMTYPE of "zmud" is sent to the MUD.  With the new version of CMUD, a player connecting to your MUD will return a TERMTYPE of "cmud".  However, if they connected by clicking one of the startup icons, then CMUD will return a TERMTYPE of "cmudicon".  This will allow MUDs to track the percentage of players using the different MUD clients and to determine the effectiveness of the startup icons.  This new feature was added to CMUD in 2007.

zMUD/CMUD Startup Icons

When someone starts zMUD or CMUD to play a MUD, the first screen they see is the character selection screen. Here is what the zMUD startup screen looked like in late 2005:

Here is what the CMUD startup screen looked like in early 2007:

CMUD Startup screen

These icons are added to this screen when the player first installs zMUD/CMUD and runs it for the first time. The first ten icons are for individual MUDs who win the yearly bidding process.

The ten MUD-specific icons were purchased by each individual MUD. When the player clicks on one of the icons, a custom text file for that MUD appears in the left-hand panel. For example, when you click on the Nodeka icon, you get this:

In CMUD, the custom text file is shown at the bottom of the icon window, as shown in the above CMUD picture (the example shows clicking on the Medievia icon).

The player can also click the NEW button and see the entire list of MUDs from the MUD Connector. However, many new players will obviously just click on one of the MUD icons on the main screen. Thus, these startup icons in zMUD and CMUD generate a large number of new players connecting to the MUDs that have purchased icons.

zMUD/CMUD icons represent the most effective way for you to advertise your MUD and bring new players to your MUD. The player gets to see your custom icon, and can click on it to read more about your MUD. Since they are already running zMUD/CMUD intending to pick a MUD to play, new players naturally start from the list of MUDs that they see on this screen. This is far beyond purchasing banners for web sites and hoping that potential players click on the icon. Here you are getting players that already have a high-quality MUD client and are looking for a place to play.

Icon Details

Each icon is limited to 32 x 32 pixels and 256 colors. Actually, you only get 240 colors since 16 colors are reserved for the standard Windows color palette. Icons can be sent in either BMP, GIF, or JPG formats. Animated GIF images are NOT supported.

The text file that accompanies the icon can be any length. The text file will be word-wrapped to fit into the display panel in zMUD and CMUD.

In addition to the icon and text file, you can also provide the default *.MUD settings file for zMUD, or the *.PKG package file for CMUD. This is the settings file that contains the starting triggers, aliases, macros, etc. For example, you could pre-define a MUD screen that already has graphical gauges for hp, mana, etc, as well as a graphical compass that players can click on to move them in various directions on the MUD.  If you send a *.MUD file for zMUD, this same file will be used by CMUD and automatically converted into the new package format.

Finally, you can also provide the *.ZFG mapper configuration file. This file is used to configure the zMUD/CMUD automapper so that the player doesn't have to mess with it themselves. If you support the automapper and want to help new players get started, providing the ZFG configuration file is a great way to help.

Who really sees these icons?

As mentioned above, these icons are installed when you run zMUD or CMUD for the very first time. After that, the startup icons are never updated. We felt that we never wanted to interfere with the players icons after they started using the MUD client. Adding or updating icons behind the scenes automatically would annoy many customers. So, only new players who are running zMUD or CMUD for the first time will get the current set of icons.

However, to attract new players to your MUD, this is just what you want. Experienced MUD players either already have an established character on a MUD that they are playing, or they are playing on the same MUD as their friends. It's really the new players who have never played a MUD before that have no idea where to start and need some directions.

The entire purpose of these startup icons is to provide a direction for brand new players. Without these icons, a new MUD player would need to click the NEW button and then browse the list of over 2,000 MUDs. This can be very intimidating for new players. Even if they find a MUD they are interested in, they might try to connect to it to find that the MUD no longer exists, or is only in the testing phase, or only has a small number of people playing it.

By providing startup icons for some of the major MUDs on the Internet, we are directing brand new players to well-established MUDs that tend to have lots of players. A new player is more likely to get help on one of these MUDs and get addicted, rather than getting discouraged and never trying MUDs again in the future.


To help determine how many new players might potentially see your icon, I have collected some statistics on current zMUD and CMUD usage. Currently (January 2008), there are about 117,000 activations of zMUD per day, and about 13,000 activations of CMUD per day. Out of these, 200 per day are brand new users installing zMUD or CMUD for the first time, or reinstalling a newer version from scratch. These 200 activations per day will get the current set of startup icons. Once these new users have downloaded your icon, they will see your icon each time they run zMUD or CMUD until they manually delete the icon. Even though your icon bid only lasts for a year, anyone that already has your icon will continue to view it until deleted. The startup icons are only changed when zMUD or CMUD is first installed or if the user has deleted their startup.ini file.

Thus, the longer your icon is active, the more users who will continue to see your MUD icon. For example, if your icon is active for a year (the normal bid period), your icon will have been installed on roughly 70,000 new user systems. In zMUD there is no way to track actual "click-through" rates for startup icons (except on the MUD itself), these statistics show the great value for getting your MUD icon into the zMUD startup screen and keeping it there for a long period of time.  In CMUD you can track the number of players using the startup icon using the TERMTYPE telnet option and looking for the "cmudicon" response.

In 2006 (Feb 2006-Feb 2007), the top-ten icons were downloaded a total of 82,132 times in zMUD, and 8,392 in CMUD (which was first released in June-2006). In 2007 (Feb 2007-Feb 2008), the top-ten icons were downloaded a total of 62,730 in zMUD and 15,548 in CMUD.

What are you bidding for?

When I added the capability for customized icons in the zMUD startup screen, I decided early that I was not going to "spam" the customer with lots and lots of icons. After all, if there are too many icons listed, then it is no better than just looking at the entire MUD list. A total of ten MUD icon slots are available for bidding.

Obviously there is a lot of demand for these ten icon slots. After all, there are thousands of MUDs on the Internet who would love to get an icon in zMUD/CMUD and increase their new player base. When these icons were first added in 2004, I contacted some of the larger MUDs who had done advertising business with Zugg Software in the past. These MUDs each paid $1200 for one-year of icon display in zMUD. The order of the icons listed was determined by who paid first (first come, first served). I only had to contact ten MUDs before I had filled all eight of the original icon slots.

During the following year I was contacted by many other MUDs that wondered how to get their MUD icon added to zMUD. It became clear that this was going to be very competitive and that I could no longer just contact MUDs that I had worked with in the past.

So, starting in 2005 we implemented a bidding process for the ten icon slots. Similar to e-Bay, each MUD would submit a bid for how much they were willing to pay for one of the ten icon slots in zMUD. Once the bid was over, the top ten bids would be selected to fill the ten icon slots. The order of the icons would be determined by the price of the bid, with the highest bid listed first.  In 2005, the top icon bid was for $4000 (Nodeka), and the tenth icon bid was for $1100 (Lusternia). In 2006, the top icon bid was for $5010 (Medievia), and the tenth icon bid was for $1201 (Arctic).  In 2007, the top icon bid was for $3000 (RetroMUD), and the tenth icon bid was for $1620 (Lost Wishes).


The main purpose of the startup icons is to drive new MUD players to well-established MUDs so that they have a good first experience. We want new players to come back for more. We don't want them to get discouraged or intimidated and go back to playing World of Warcraft or their PlayStation.

I am not doing this just to make money. The cost of the icons is needed to provide a fair way for a large number of MUDs to compete for a very limited number of icon slots. It's true that most MUDs are free and don't have a lot of money. Thus, these icon slots tend to be dominated by large MUDs, or MUDs that charge money. However, from the point of view of attracting new players to well-established MUDs, this is actually desireable. While there are always exceptions, in general the MUDs that can afford a zMUD/CMUD icon are good places for new players to start. I understand that there are many many high quality MUDs who just cannot afford this kind of advertising, and I apologize that there isn't a better way to handle this.

For more information on the details of the actual bidding process, go to the Bidding Description page.

Copyright 2009 by Zugg Software