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 "resolutions":

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!
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:

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.