A New Year's Letter from Zugg
What's in store for 1999?
Happy New Year!
1998 was another great year for Zugg Software. Registrations
have increased with the additional copy protection incorporated into zMUD last year, and
zMUD continues to lead the MUD Client market.
During 1998, many improvements were added to zMUD. The new
automapper was stablized, the database module was added, the zChat program was developed
to add MudMaster compatible Chat features to zMUD, and the zMUD API was developed allowing
other programs to write plugins for zMUD. Just look at the Version History and you'll see all of the new stuff that
was added this year.
However, 1998 still wasn't the "Year of the MUD" as I had
hoped in last year's letter (has it been a year already?).
Little work was done on the MUD eXtention Protocol (MXP) or in getting the
attention of the gaming industry. Also, the HTML support in zMUD got delayed and was
never started in 1998.
So, there is still a lot of work left to do! A new public
release will be out within a week or so. After that release is done, I will renew my
commitment to the MXP and HTML projects. You'll see beta versions in February and
March that start to implement HTML and you'll see a draft MXP spec in the Developer's
Forum. I will also work more with developers to improve the zMUD API for plugins,
and finally get around to publishing some examples in C/C++ and Visual Basic. We are
still just learning to crawl when it comes to plugins, and I think there is a lot more
potential to be exploited.
So, let's recoup: Here are some grades on last year's
- Collaboration: C
- Never got around to improving the interface to the MUD Connector.
Just started interacting with other Developers. Made the Chat features
compatible with MUDMaster.
- MUD eXtension Protocol: F
- Didn't do anything with this. My how time flies!
- HTML MUDding: F
- Nothing was done about this either
- Integrated Database: A
- The database was a hit! I don't know about other zMUD users,
but I don't know how I lived without it.
- Customer Support: A
- Continued to respond promptly to my ever increasing email load, while
still getting new versions of zMUD out in a fairly timely fashion. In August we
moved from a shared web server to our own dedicated dual-Pentium-II system, and just a
week ago we upgraded the database software to make the site more reliable. This has
increased the monthly cost of supporting the zuggsoft.com site, but increased stability
translates directly into higher registration rates, so the cost is worth it.
- Advertising: C
- Still no media attention on zMUD or MUDs in general, although a
columnist in PC Gamer has recently mentioned enjoying a MUD. He hasn't responded to
my emails about zMUD yet though. And I didn't get the 5.22 public release done in
time for the PC Magazine Shareware awards. On the other hand, we did get the
advertising banner code set up on the zuggsoft server.
For 1999, the priorities are:
- HTML MUDding:
- I still think this is one of the top features that we can add to
attract new attention to MUDs. It was tried in the Pueblo client, but it didn't have
the market share needed to get the attention of most MUD servers. With HTML support
in zMUD, more MUDs should become interested in supporting it, especially if it means more
users attracted to their MUD.
- MUD eXtension Protocol (MXP):
- This still needs to be fleshed out, but the idea is to allow a MUD to
interact more seemlessly with the client, allowing the MUD to trigger popup windows,
forms, graphics, etc.
- Chat Server
- A service that will add ICQ-like functionality to zChat, performing
user-name/IP-address lookups so that you can chat with someone without knowing their IP
address. This will make zChat a true competitor to ICQ, but requires a robust
database backend on the zuggsoft.com server.
- A stripped down version of zMUD targetted at a business environment
that needs a robust, programmable Telnet client.
- I still plan to target some magazines to try to get more attention
paid to MUDs. I now have a CD-burner and plan to send some copies of zMUD and zChat
out to some editors. I'll also be at GenCon 99 this summer to promote the use of
zMUD as a role-playing tool and to talk about MUDs.
- Customer Service
- Of course, this is an ongoing priority. I still plan to
maintain the highest level of support for zMUD users. You'll continue to see regular
zMUD releases. Email is answered within 24 hours during the weekday. Most
email from the weekend is answered on Mondays.
So there's a look at the year ahead. It's always hard to
predict exactly what will happen. 1998 didn't go exactly as planned, but was still a
great year for zMUD users. 1999 should be even better. Thanks again to all of
the zMUD users out their that continue to support it, and to all of the people who have
supported Shareware and registered their software.
This page was last updated on July 24, 2001.