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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23379
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:54 pm   

New Year's Letter for 2008
A look back at 2007 and a roadmap for 2008
Happy New Year!

It's traditional for me to review the past year at Zugg Software and give you a preview of what's coming for the next year. So, let's first look back on 2007:

Zugg Software in 2007 - A Return to MUDding

Last year (2007) was all about improving CMUD and making it stable. I'm happy that I finally got SSH support added and released CMUDPro. SSH support has been on my to-do list for many years. However, most of the year was spent on lots of miscellaneous improvements to CMUD. This included a new script editor based upon the open-source Scintilla editor component, adding full Lua scripting support, adding the Trigger Tester, adding a full script debugger window, adding multithreaded support, and many more other features.

The big focus in 2007 was stability. The first 1.24 Public version last year was pretty bad. And even the later 1.34 Public version wasn't very stable. It wasn't until I started playing MUDs again myself in the Fall that CMUD really started to see some major improvements. The 2.18 Public version released in December is the most stable version of CMUD to-date. And even though there are still plenty of bugs to fix and things to improve, I think it's in very good shape for the majority of MUD players to start using now. If you haven't tried CMUD yet, you really owe it to yourself to give it a try. Most of us who use CMUD regularly would never go back to using zMUD now.

Playing MUDs again in 2007 was a blast. I've played most every MMO that has ever been created. I'm still active on several MMOs, including EQ2, Vanguard, LOTRO, and WoW. It had been many years since I seriously played a MUD myself. Mostly I just didn't have the time. But I decided that it was important to start playing MUDs again to try and really focus on fixing serious problems in CMUD. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that even after playing all of the graphical MMOs, MUDs were still fun! MUDs are still as addictive as ever, and I found that as I played a good MUD more and more, I didn't even miss all of the fancy graphics of the MMO. In fact, I was role-playing a lot more than I normally do in MMOs and having more fun with other players.

I plan to continue playing MUDs during 2008 and this should help CMUD get even better. If you've gotten away from MUDding and have been lured into playing all of the latest graphical MMOs, I encourage you to give MUDs a try again sometime. There are a lot to choose from, and there are still some very active and fun MUDs out there. It's a bit difficult at first remembering how to type instead of just clicking on icons. But once you remember how to use zMUD/CMUD and start creating some aliases, triggers, macros, buttons and speedwalks to help out, then it starts getting more fun. I had forgotten how fast and furious combat can be on a text-based MUD. I actually find it more interesting and fun than the standard "grinding" that most MMOs degenerate into. Of course, I haven't canceled any of my MMO accounts. They can still be fun sometimes, and I do have some friends on those games that I like to stay in touch with. So I'll just add MUDs to the list of games that I regularly play and treat MUDs as a different gaming experience, rather than a competitor. Why choose between MUDs and MMOs when you can play both!

The Future of Zugg Software in 2008

The plan for 2008 looks a lot like it did in 2007. Many of the major projects from last-year's list are still planned for this year. Based upon feedback from existing customers, I have tried to prioritize this list this year and have ordered the list by their priority and planned release. Just keep in mind that everything always takes longer than any of us would like, and many of these projects will probably continue to slip until future years.
Delphi/Vista updates
This is a bit of an "internal" issue, but in 2008 I am switching from doing all of my software development in Windows XP to using Windows Vista all of the time instead. It's not that I like Vista (I still hate a lot of it). But developing in Vista instead of XP will help improve the compatibility of CMUD with Vista and help take advantage of new Vista features. It also forces me to upgrade the Delphi development tools that I use from Delphi 7 to Delphi 2007 and to upgrade all of my 3rd party tools and components to their latest versions. Updating the 3rd party components and also consolidating these components and getting rid of the ones that I don't really need anymore will help fix a variety of obscure bugs in CMUD. I expect this update to take most of January.
As I announced late last year, I have acquired the domain and plan to create a website where CMUD customers can store their session files, allowing them to play their MUD from any computer, and also chat about the MUDs they are playing. This will make it easier to play MUDs at both home and work without needing to worry about transferring files. I'm hoping to have the first version of ready sometime in February.
TeSSH program
Now that SSH support has been added to CMUDPro, I still plan to release a business-oriented product called TeSSH (Telnet/SSH client. Tesh is also the name of our cat :). This product will remove MUD-specific features, such as the mapper and the MUD listing. It will be marketed towards sys-admins that need a scriptable telnet/SSH client, especially now that Lua scripting has been added.
Free CMUDLite program
A new, free, "lite" version of CMUD will allow you to play your MUD from any computer. CMUDLite will not require Admin privileges to install and won't have any copy protection. This will be a stripped-down version of CMUD (no mapper, no package editor or shared library), but it will support your session files saved on so that you can easily play from any computer. This project is still in it's early design phases, so more information will be provided during the year. CMUDLite will be released sometime after the debut of the site.
Improved CMUD Mapper
Based upon customer feedback in 2007, the main feature that most CMUD users want is improvements to the mapper. The current mapper in CMUD was directly ported from zMUD with only minor changes to make it work with the new window docking system. The mapper needs to be better integrated with the new CMUD user interface. Also, I want to replace the buggy ADO/MDAC database format used in the mapper with the newer SQLite database format used elsewhere in CMUD. At the same time I have many ideas for improving the mapper. A new version of zMapper (probably called CMapper) will also be released to work directly with CMUD, and will be a free upgrade for existing zMapper users. One of the planned improvements for the mapper is support for graphical tile-based maps, along with a standard protocol to allow MUDs to support tile-based mapping (such as for overland areas on the MUD).
Chat Module
Chatting between players is a big part of MUD playing. And while zChat was useful to some people, there are a lot of improvements that can be made in it. These chat features will be built directly into CMUD. I currently plan to support the Jabber protocol and the GoogleTalk system.
Scriptable Window "Forms"
When I wrote zApp, I developed my own Microsoft Scripting Host component that allowed for better multi-language scripting support. I will be adding this component to CMUD. This will allow better mixing of multiple scripting languages, and will also allow new scriptable "forms", which will be like the ZML forms used in zApp. These scriptable forms will be integrated with MXP to provide the capabilities for better customized integration with MUD servers.
New Database module for CMUD
As with the mapper, the database module in CMUD was simply ported from zMUD. The Database module from zMUD is not a "real" database. I want to completely rewrite the Database module to use actual SQL database code. At the same time, I'll be releasing a new standalone database program (name to be determined). This will work a lot like the zMapper plugin. The normal database module will work with normal SQL databases, but if CMUD detects that you have the standalone database program installed, then it will expand the database capabilities within CMUD. With this enhanced database module you will be able to access almost *any* type of database from your scripts.

As usual, I'll also be focused on continuing to improve the stability of CMUD and the documentation. Other features, such as a plugin system, are also planned and will be added as time permits.

Even though I tried to reduce my stress last year, I still found myself going a bit crazy with releases. During the last few months of 2007 I was releasing a new version of CMUD every *week*. Not only was this a bit much for beta testers to swallow, it caused me increasing stress as I tried hard to get a stable version of CMUD 2.x released before the holidays.

Once again in 2008 I'm going to *try* and relax a bit and get back to the "monthly" releases that I used to do with zMUD. But I'm not going to stress about release dates. I'm just going to release something when it's ready. There will still be Beta versions and Beta Testing, but I'm not going to kill myself trying to meet specific dates.

As I said last year, I still have a *lot* of ideas for CMUD, and I know that many customers have lots of ideas. And that's a good thing. I want to keep CMUD focused on what MUD players want, and that's my focus for Zugg Software this year and for many years in the future. The fact that I'm playing MUDs again myself should help CMUD get even better.


Thanks to everyone who supported CMUD last year, and especially to all of those active beta testers who stuck with me during all of the crazy weekly beta releases to try and make CMUD 2.x stable.

My most important focus has always been, and will continue to be, our customers. I'm sure I can keep myself busy for years programming all sorts of obscure new features for CMUD. But I'd rather spend my time implementing the features that *you* want. So be sure to participate in the CMUD Discussion Forum, or send me email telling me what you want to see improved in CMUD. While I can't promise to implement everything that I receive, the more feedback that I get, the better chance I have to focus my resources on the features and problems that matter the most to the largest group of customers.

Our web motto at the top of the page says "Customer-driven Internet solutions" and I really mean that. zMUD was driven by customer feedback for many years. With the more sustainable business model and modern code in CMUD, I should be able to do even better in the future.

Finally, huge thanks to my wife Chiara for all of her support and inspiration. Chiara put up with a lot this past year. But without her support, CMUD would have never happened. This year we will continue our low-carb lifestyle, exercise even more, and reduce our stress so that we can keep providing quality MUD software for many years to come. Yes, that's the same thing I said last year, but it's still very true.

Happy MUDding!



New Year's letter from 2007
New Year's letter from 2006
New Year's letter from 2005
New Year's letter from 2004
New Year's letter from 2003
New Year's letter from 2002
New Year's letter from 2001
New Year's letter from 1999
New Year's letter from 1998
Survey results from 1999
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