News: Boredum, Z-Net 3.0, and Z-Band

Sunday, April 08, 2012

I've been really bored lately. I log in WoW for a few minutes, get bored, and log out. This boredom has caused me to start fiddling with the Z-Net 3.0 code some over the past few days. I mainly just wanted to see in what state I left the code at after reinstalling msvc++2008. While exploring it, I fixed a few bugs I thought of. Mostly stuff with the games list window and how game rooms are opened from it. As is though, It's just as I've said. Fully working, but with some fine tuning needed.

I quickly got to the point were I didn't want to mess with bugs anymore until the poll shows enough interest from people. So I got bored again. This time I decided to fiddle with the client side end on the Z-Band stuff I worked on a few months ago. At the same time I figured I'd see how much work it would take to put that code into the Z-Net 3.0 project. Not properly implemented, but just merged and functioning.

I was able to port it into the Z-Net 3.0 code much easier then I thought. It's probably the messiest code I've ever done, but it's in, and working! But it still wasn't setup to work with the server setup I designed a few months ago.

After a lot more messy coping, pasting, and editing of my code, I finally got it all working together! Yay! It's nice to see all this code working as I wanted, and it's awesome to see this project I envisioned so many years before, working so beautifully! Beautifully meaning you can barely tell anything is happening at all. The Z-Band project page, and some of my old blog posts would explain what this is about if you don't know, but I'll try so sum it up how the project would be right now.

Z-Band is the name for the score tracking code I've developed. It's created with he intention to be used for tournaments and leader boards. You might have heard of something like this before from projects that seemed to have poorly ripped off the Z-Band idea I first introduced back in 2003 or 2004, but this is different in that this doesn't rely on the honor system/intelligence of players regarding correctly submitting their game results. Z-Band does this automatically! It actually watches your game as you play it, and it instantly sees new score results as they happen and automatically updates the server. No input is required from the user at all. In fact, all the users would have to do that's extra for this, is in theory press a single button to register the match with the server, unless I could eliminate that step as well.

The only limits of this is that Z-Band needs to be coded for each game individually. But If I had the time/desire, I could probably have it support every popular multiplayer SNES game, and I see no reason why I couldn't branch it out into other console emulators if I used it in a project that supported more (Like Z-Net 2.0). Right now I have it coded for SMK, as that's the game I've always used when developing it. But in the last version I had working with Z-Net 2.0, it supported SFII and GWED as well, with support for Bust-a-Move being worked on by request (maybe finished). Enabling SFII and GWED with this new setup shouldn't take much more work.

This project is far from being useable for average players however. For many reasons. The servers PHP was coded by a beginner (Me), the client code is a complete mess right now as I said, and it has a lot of work that would need to be done to be properly implemented for players to use as intended. And of course, I have zero plans to get back into the emulation netplay scene right now, unless the poll results come back favorably. In the scenario in which people do show enough interest to draw me back enough to release the Z-Net 3.0 project, that would be the first step. As much as I would want to, as Z-Band is my favorite project, I could/would make no guarantees. The Z-Band project has always been one that pushes my coding limits, and I wouldn't commit to it when its so far from finished. And despite being my favorite project, I have zero interest in attempting to make it without one of my Z-Net projects being successful first, as I would intend on linking them together.

If I were to move this project forward towards release, Z-Net 3.0's demand and release would be the start and absolute minimum. After that, it's success in maintaining a decent amount of users would be next of course. Beyond that, I'm uncertain. Someone else who's much better at PHP then me to take charge of the server code, would help a ton. And I might want to add support for a few more games as well.

For now, I suppose this projects goal is exactly what its doing right now. Killing time when I'm bored. Though I do wish someday I could release it. We will see.


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