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Joined: 16 Mar 2003
Posts: 45
Location: Russia

PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2004 6:41 pm   

Comment about New Years Letter
Over the past several years, I have received many email messages from zMUD users who wanted to be able to customize their MUD maps in various ways. zMapper allows a huge amount of map customization, and does it using a standard database format that allows 3rd parties to develop additional tools. A whole new set of scripting objects was added to zMapper to allow zMUD users to script their maps in ways that were never possible before. But for whatever set of reasons, few people have been willing to buy zMapper. I don't know whether it's just the continued trend towards MUD players wanting stuff for free, whether zMapper hasn't been marketed properly (something I admit I'm terrible at), or whether people just found zMapper hard to use or too unstable. No matter how I look at it, only 100 sales over the past year is a complete failure.

I think it's too early to call this project a failure. Can you remember, how many copies of zMUD did you sell when it was version 1.x? Not many, I think. And zMapper doesn't even have stable release.

I bought zMapper with zMUD, however if I didn't do it, and downloaded just to see what is it, I wouldn't pay for it, because it's hard to start using it. But after some interface improvements, perhaps adding some visual editing features, writing help and removing 'beta' status, people that download it may start actually using it, which means that after evaluation period is over, many of them will buy it.

Numbers at show that zMUD latest beta is downloaded 70 times each day (and that doesn't include people who download stable version because they're afraid to run betas), and zMapper is downloaded 20 times each day. In my opinion that's enough downloads for much more successful sales than 100/year.

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

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2004 9:55 pm   
You can't use download statistics on this. There are lots of web crawlers that load pages and trigger these counters which are not real users downloading. All I can do is report *actual* sales information, and my New Years letter tells you what those are.

Regarding stability, zMapper runs just fine on Win2000 and WinXP systems. Stability issues on Win98 are related to various resource and memory leaks in the Win98 GDI code for handling Meta Files that I haven't found good workarounds for yet.

As far as using it, there are lots of tutorials for zMapper available. It's not hard to use. It has a help file too. I don't think just removing the Beta status will do any good, and in good concience I can't remove the beta status until the problems with Win98 are dealt with.

Comparing to zMUD 1.x isn't fair because zMUD 1.x was free. Everything was free until zMUD v4.x. But that time zMUD was selling far more than 100 copies even via donations. A better comparison would be zExplorer, which has been in Beta status for just as long as zMapper. And yet even zExplorer has sold better.

Even a better comparison is to look at the first two years of a project. After two years of development, zMUD had only sold 10,000 copies. After two years of development, zMapper has sold 400 copies. zMUD was just as unstable and hard to use after only 2 years. But it was selling enough to justify continued development and improvement. zMapper is not.

But you do the math. 100 copies times $20 is $2000 for the entire year. Thats equal to about 3 days of zMUD sales. I've been subsidizing zMapper development from zMUD for 2 years now. I was willing to put up with low sales for 2 years. But with no increase in sales over the past year there is just absolutely no way to justify my work on this project at this time. I need to make enough money from my products to pay my bills. That's not happening right now. So I need a project that will sell. Once I have enough sales on something else to pay the bills, then I might come back to work on zMapper. There is just no way for me to do this right now. I'd go broke.
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Joined: 03 Sep 2004
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 9:44 am   
I will not pretend to understand the lack of sales of ZMapper, but can only give you my perspective of why I didn't purchase ZMapper for quite sometime. To me ZMapper appeared to be eye candy. The abilities of the plugin are in my opinion not touted properly. The website gives you the impression that you use the ZMapper for making the map look pretty. I was not interested in spending hours decorating maps. What I wanted was a time saver. It most definately can be a time saver, but you invest some time learning how to interface with the plugin, lack of samples can be intimidating perhaps for someone unfamilliar with how to do the function calls. Afew side note, which may/may not have been addressed, and understanding the current time line for ZMapper is pretty much "when I get around to it". Plusing up the documention would help alot. Adding a few "gotta have em features" that are just plain hard to do in Zmud's mapper such as the ability to disable portal for a room or string of rooms, or changing link colors, highlight colors for example. Basicly my opinion when I saw the ZMapper is ok but WHY do *I* need it? I have a perfectly suitable mapper, which I am not hearing about a slew of "bugs". I agree if you were to post ZMapper as "stable" with disclaimer that Win98 causes problems, or listing NT/XP as a requirement for the software. Add some documentation, samples ect, then sales would pick up, and snowball over time, as people gained that level of confidence and said well gee this is WHY it's a killer app for me I can't live without. Then you could have time to add some more reasons to why you "Gotta have it" I am sure alot of this is old news but it's based on what *MY* perception of ZMapper was about. And as we have heared a few times perception is reality. Right now, the consumer is sees labor intensive mapping for eye candy, and obtw it's a beta which equates into buggy software, and the helpfiles while suffience for an intermediate/advanced user to understand, most people are not there so they see the helpfile and say ok why spend 20 bucks if I can't get anything I will USE for it. Perhaps a web poll asking why people are not using ZMapper would clairify poor sales. Just my 2cents.
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23379
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:41 pm   
Thanks for posting your impressions. I'll definitely take that into consideration. Honestly, I was trying to make zMapper more of a general purpose mapping program (like for D&D maps), rather than just a zMUD plugin. Perhaps focusing more on the zMUD aspects might be better. We'll see how it goes after eMobius ships.
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