News: Thinking About the Future of My Z-Net and Z-Band Projects

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Last night I managed to dig up an email address for Veeb0rg, and I sent him an email asking him what the real status is with zbattle, and if he plans to bring it back. I have no idea if he will reply, or even received the email since his email account may very well have been hosted through the same server as the zbattle server (I think it is). Whatever he might respond with, I don't know what directions my projects might take. While I've made no promises about their futures, as I don't expect the projects to gain the kind of popularity I feel they would require, I personally would really love to release the projects and maintain them. With all the time I've invested into the different iterations over the years, I would really like to see one or more released and succeed.

Sadly though, I feel there's just to many projects around that despite lack of credit as such, are trying to follow in the footsteps of zbattle, Z-Net, and what I planned for Z-Band. Shortly after Z-Net 1.0, it was things like zConnector and ZeNP. Around the time of Z-Net 2.0, it was things like CGA. Now in the absence of zbattle which has persisted and dominated throughout those years, I find my self in the same position as I did with Z-Net 1.0. Z-Net 1.0 was never meant to be a ripoff of zbattle. It was inspired by it, but was created to replace it after zbattle was down for several months. Had it not have been down so long, I'd have never seriously considered making it. Z-Net 3.0 is in the same exact position. Z-Net 2.0 was, if anything, intended to be a non-laggy alternative to Kaillera, but was really developed just because I was bored and just purely wanted to create it how I felt Z-Net 1.0 should have been from the start, to prove it could work as a mIRC script. My thoughts about what I would need to do with a project like this to get it to succeed are always on my mind when thinking about the projects at all. I've considered shooting strait for the Z-Band idea, as I've always felt those features were strong enough to carve a spot for the project in the online emulator scene, as its a original idea. Sadly though, it seems yet again, even that I idea has become ripped off to an extent. Starting with CGA's blatant half assed Z-Band ripoff, and now continuing with 2 other projects I've learned of, to some extent.

So I really don't know what kind of future I could hope for with these projects. Competition is good with a lot of things, but not projects like these. That would just leave project mergers. While I'm not opposed to that idea, as one would expect, I'm sure posturing and politics would get in the way of that happening to easily. Using zbattle as an example. While I have never discussed a project merger with Veeb0rg, that I can remember, issues would likely be that despite zbattle having an established name in the scene, I wouldn't be interested in making a zbattle 2.0 (or 3.0? I forget...). I'd likely have done all the work on a new client myself, as Veeb0rg himself doesn't know how to code such a program (last I knew). So I'd adamantly want to name it myself, likely using the name Z-Net. I'd completely understand his point of view if he wanted to use the name zbattle, but I just plain wouldn't agree with it. And I'm sure a project merger would stall there. Project mergers with other relatable projects would be similar. Or possibly just require my involvement on someone elses client, of which I have zero interest. I don't care much for diving in and figuring out someone elses code, nor does hopping aboard someone elses projects as a new team member, high or low ranking, seem that interesting after experiences like with the EQC project. It may seem like a pretty selfish stance looking at my point of view from the outside, but it is what it is. I can't help that. I want to have fun while doing a project, and I know what things can seriously hinder that fun.

Anyway, I suppose it would be something, so I might as well officially throw this out there, as projects devs never usually even do this much. But I'm not opposed to a project merger of my own projects with another. There are likely to be issues making doing so not progress to easily if at all, but I can say that I'm willing to open talks about it.

Moving on to my projects as is. They're still just as I've previously stated. If things keep going the way they are, I would release Z-Net 3.0 under the conditions I've stated. And the same would go for Z-Band. If Veeb0rg decided to bring back zbattle soon, then I'm not certain on everything with Z-Net 3.0. I can pretty much state that the poll will be ignored, and I will no longer release Z-Net 3.0 purely because it reached some minimum number of votes. The project would likely go back to the state it was in before. From there, I'd likely purely work on Z-Band as a stand alone client itself when I'm bored, and if I were to release anything in the future, it would be that. If things were heading that direction, I'd likely create a new poll purely for interest in that project, but with no deadline. With zbattle being back up, and me focusing more on Z-Band, while not completely discarding GUI/feature similarity's to zbattle, I would likely put effort into my own design (learning from zbattle, and Z-Net 1.0/2.0 regarding what to/not to do.), as I've stated before cloning another program like that I only deem fine if the original project is dead. My own project would have to be different in my opinion. After taking my project in my own direction like that, I would become more interested in releasing something to the public, if only just beta versions I don't really intend people to seriously use.

Those are all the thoughts I can think of on those things right now.

Oh. I changed the Z-Band page and link too. It's now a page instead of a post, rewritten descriptions, a basic project log, and the links to those leader board and score tracking pages I made.


Caleb said...

Hey man,

As you probably guessed, it was I who advertised on the ZSNES forums. As you said previously, it is definitely a ghost town, but I'd like to think it has helped. There have been ~70 views on the thread, so at least that's something?

Now that I am older, I feel as if I better understand you predicament with Z-Net. It is definitely your baby - one that just won't seem to die. Feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt, but here are my two cents.

I think you should work on the project insofar as the project is fun for you. Although I can see how putting a lot of effort into a project and not having it being largely popular might be a drag, I think you should look at it this way: Keep making the project until you get bored of it -OR- you essentially make the program match the idea you have for it in your head, whichever comes sooner. If you eventually get a client that you're happy with, then why not release it and get yourself a spot on Zophar's Domain (Z-Net 2.0 is actually still there) ? Especially since the client relies on some IRC server, why not let Z-Net live on far beyond your interest in it, regardless of the shrinking scene? Someday ZSNES itself will likely be a marginal project that only people like you and I care about, but I would be devastated if the authors stopped making it publicly available someday.

Finally, I have one last idea for attracting users that I don't think we ever tried during Z-Net 2.0s run - attracting Zbattle's Spanish-speaking users. These guys were a large part of the Zbattle userbase, and I could definitely see them coming your way.

Hope Veeb sends you a response. That would be interesting indeed.

DarkAkuma said...

Yes. I thought it was you who posted there. And yes, it has helped. After the google hits, that's thread is contributing the second most hits, ahead of forwards, random direct hits, and misc unrelated forum posts due to me including my blog url in my sigs.

The working on it just for the fun I get from doing so is basically what I have been doing. I do just like coding something here and there, even if I don't plan to release it to see very many people using it. That's easy with small projects, like say the Action Replay .dol extractor, or stupid mIRC scripts like the pig latin one. With larger projects where I've had to invest far more time to get it near my goals, it's not as easy. Even the spark of a chance for me to make it succeed, like right now with zbattle being down, gets me hoping to do so again. And coming back down from even that little spark sucks for me.

If I don't feel a project I'm developing has a clear substantial reason for people to use it, or people to use it instead of another, then I have a hard time feeling its worth it. Z-Band would have possibly done that, if i could have made it with a stand alone client years ago. Now with Z-Band idea ripoffs around, the wind has been knocked out of my sails with that hope.

If I plan to release something to the public anytime soon, assuming Z-Net 3.0 doesn't get off deck and ready at bat, Z-Band is my best bet, but what I've been thinking to make it feel worth while to me is, borrowing some from my idea with Z-Net 2.0. Shoot for beyond just SNES. For others, I think making SNES related projects like these is just because their lazy and un-original. For me, it's purely been because the SNES is without a doubt my all time favorite system, and whatever I do with emulation related stuff that could involve the SNES, for me has to.

The Z-Band idea isn't just limited to being used with ZSNES. It should be adaptable to any other system as well. Once the base structure of the code is all set, like it is now for the most part, adding support for another game whether it be for SNES, Genesis, or maybe CPS2, should pretty much be all the same. The launching of non-ZSNES emus would take much more work with the code.

Now that I've stated this idea publicly, I'm sure its going to be copied in the next year if I don't get on it. lol.

DarkAkuma said...

(I talk to much. Had to split this into 2 comments.)

As shocking as it is, believe it or not, there have been 2-3 people actually using Z-Net 2.0 in the gamesurge channel recently. lol

Honestly, I designed Z-Net 2.0 with the goal of it being able to live past my continued involvement. It still should be perfectly useable for anyone. People just don't, because people just don't. That old catch 22 I always mentioned about getting regular users for project like these. If per say, people did use ZN2 these past 4 or so years, to a point of there being a consistent decent amount of users throughout the day, like maybe maxing at 10 at the least, I would have stuck with it and polished it up more as much as I could.

Even if I still wasn't in the #Z-Net channel it could still be used and live on wherever people wanted to setup shop. That's actually basically been my idea with Z-Net and its IRC relation from the start. Whatever happens to gamesurge, even without me, people could just setup a new channel for it elsewhere. I just didn't quite talk about that aspect much because the community was so small, I didn't want people realizing they could try to setup a new channel instead of the default one, where they could view themselves as supreme ruler of, or whatever stupid ideas drive them to do so. lol

Well. I thought about that idea. Well, more so with Brazilian/Portuguese users, as there seems to be a larger amount of them. With Z-Net 1.0 and 2.0 the project was more about a community based around the channel. When you start trying to appeal more to non English languages, you start attracting more users who don't speak English at all. That makes socializing with community members difficult, and seeing as those Z-Nets were always in a public beta state, helping people with issues who don't speak English would have sucked. I didn't really mention it then, but my plan in case Z-Net ever did reach a decent amount of users was to do just that, thanks to Z-Net 2.0s unlimited room/emulator capability, when the time was right I was likely going to start getting people to help run channels devoted to specific languages. People could have done that on their own, since I tried to make 2.0s addon setup, writable by anyone.

With Z-Net 3.0, while I could, and currently do have a chat room window for it, I plan not to release it with that feature available, for various reasons I just won't go into atm. Not having that would make attracting non-english speakers more appealing to me. But that's just one of those things I don't want to jump into to quickly, as I figured enabling that chat window down the road was going to be an option.

I'm not opposed to non-english users. But I don't think it would be a good idea to start appealing to them with a project at a point like this.

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