What's in store for 2003?
It's become a tradition for me to review the past year and to then give you a peek at what is coming in the next year. A lot has been accomplished in 2002, and there should be more surprises in store for 2003. First, a look back:
Here is a quote from last year's New Years letter where I described what was planned for 2002:
- The main focus in zMUD development this year will be the automapper, stability, and speed. After the current set of bugs in v6.24 are fixed, the file format for the mapper will be completely changed to a real database format. This will allow for much larger maps, faster and more reliable speedwalking, and a host of new features. Some of these new features will require the new Mapper addon, described below, but there will be plenty of new mapper features for existing zMUD users as well. Expect to see the changes to the mapper in Feb-Apr 2002.
- Mapper program:
- This was hinted at last year in my 2001 New Year's letter, but with the success of AC Explorer, the scope and magnitude of this project has increased. This will be a major new product for Zugg Software. While it will work with zMUD as a plugin and enhance the zMUD maps, it will also be useful for anyone who enjoys online role-playing games, whether they are MUD games or graphical online games. Just as AC Explorer was a separate product, so will the new Mapper be a separate product. Pricing has not been determined yet, and it's still possible that existing zMUD and AC Explorer users might get a discount on early versions of the new Mapper. Expect to see more details and initial beta versions in Mar-May 2002, with continued work and major enhancements throughout the coming year.
- AC Explorer:
- AC Explorer will still continue to be fully supported. As Microsoft and Turbine make monthly changes to Asheron's Call, AC Explorer will be updated to continue functioning. The new Mapper program will also be compatible with new AC Explorer versions, so expect to see the same sort of excitement with the Mapper and AC Explorer as you do with the Mapper and zMUD.
Wow! I accomplished every one of the goals stated in last years letter (I think this is the first year that has happened!). 2002 saw the release of the first public version of zMUD in over 2 years! Based upon the large amount of email feedback I received during the holidays, v6.40 is the fastest and most stable version of zMUD to date. There have been some problems with older ADO/MDAC Microsoft system software on some people's computers that can cause the new mapper to be slow, but for people with updated operating systems, the new mapper really is faster than the old one and provides much more flexibility.
The zMapper program, while still in Beta stages, already allows for a great deal of customization of zMUD maps. Also, zMapper has been used to create the maps of Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2 that are used in the new zExplorer product, a free upgrade to previous AC Explorer users.
Of course, zMUD didn't stop with just mapper improvements. VBScript/JScript capabilities were added to zMUD, and the speed of zMUD, for both text scrolling and script execution was improved dramatically. Support for SOCKS5 proxy servers, additional telnet options, and LPmud support was also added. And many many bugs from the previous versions of zMUD (yes, even the 6.16 public version had lots of bugs) were fixed, making v6.40 very stable.
In terms of sales, as of today, there are now over 42,000 registered zMUD users, 7,100 registered AC Explorer/zExplorer users, and 300 registered zMapper users!! Thanks to everyone who has continued to support Zugg Software products!
Here are some of the surprises in store for customers in 2003:
It's going to be a fun year. The challenge this year will be balancing the multiple products available from Zugg Software and trying to make all customers as happy as possible. As always, I'm committed to providing high quality software at a low price, and keeping upgrades free forever. Customers who have been living this promise for the last 7 years with zMUD know that I keep my promises. While other MUD clients have come and gone over the years, zMUD is the still the market leader with ten-times the sales of it's competitors, and with unmatched customer support. 2003 will continue with that tradition and will reach out to new customers who have never even played a MUD before.
Finally, I'd like to thank some people who have helped so much in the past year. First, my wife Chiara, who handles most of the customer support email, leaving me more time to program. Without her, you probably wouldn't have gotten a new public version of zMUD this past year. Next, I want to thank all of the zMUD Gurus that help with the Discussion Forums on the web site. I rely on these volunteers to help answer questions. Many of these Gurus know more about zMUD programming that even I do! Finally, I'd like to thank all of the customers who have supported Zugg Software over the years. Even though upgrades are free, there are many people who continue to buy additional registration codes just to support my efforts. This kind of positive support and feedback is a pleasure to see in a world that seems to be getting worse every day.
In this unstable, real world that we live, I hope that the software from Zugg Software continues to make your escape into the various virtual worlds of online gaming more pleasurable.
This page was last updated on January 07, 2003.