News: More on Z-Net I v1.2 Beta and Z-Band

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Last Thursday I released the ZNI v1.2 Beta more publicly. Since then, almost everyone is using it now instead of v1.1. It's nice to see that the ZNI population is growing a bit now with it. I can't label any one thing as the cause for the growth, but I have been thinking about the population health with everything I do, and it's nice to see something come of all my efforts.

Sadly, after I released v1.2, I soon realized there were some bugs with the protocol signature code. It's uncommon, but sometimes the protocol messages are signed incorrectly or at least unexpectedly. Other times the signatures remain used past when they should no longer be valid. The latter seems to be just a symptom though, of another bug. A bug that causes users to ping out. This I eventually realized is the bug I need to focus on. But sadly, to many users don't speak English, and/or aren't ready/willing to report the bug in any way so I can have an idea why they pinged out.

Despite that, I have learned about some bugs that cause users to ping out. 2 at least. One I've fixed, the other is unknown. I just know it has happened to another user a few times, and to me once. Normally if a bug happens to me it would lead to me being able to fix it soon afterwards. But I have no clue what happened. I traced things down as best as I could, but nothing stood out as broken, and little info was attained to possibly be able to repeat it.

So the past couple days I've been tackling whatever else that I can while I consider how to proceed forward to resolve these 2 major issues on my list.

One thing I've been working on again is Z-Band. Since my recent core revamp I've been considering what I need to work on next. And several things came up on my list. One is the need to ensure users aren't playing against the computer to raise their score/lower their opponents. So I needed to ensure that the players are in fact playing the versus modes. In addition to that, many versus games have at least 1 form of a handicap setting. It's not fair for the ability of one player to have an advantage like that in such ranked/tourny games. And also, some games have a setting for the game mode that effects the rules of the match. In particular Tetris Attack has a option to change the need for 2 wins to win a match to 1 win. Whether I limit that, or adjust Z-Band, I need to account for it.

I added a mode check, to only check wins if the mode is correct. I added code to freeze handicap settings. And for the rules setting, I added support (at least for Tetris Attack) to either lock the setting, or adjust to it.

Another thing I've been wanting to tackle is the ability for users to change their player number in ZSNES. If for say player 1 became player 2, and player 2 became player 1, Z-Band would begin attributing scores to the wrong people. What I've done for now is lock out player swapping. Later I may just have Z-Band adjust accordingly.

There's still some more issues to work out, but this brings Z-Band even closers to public usability. I almost feel like I could have people using this now.... if I had a quality server to go with it at least.

I still very much enjoy working on this project. It always feels like it has potential to be very big, and users who hear about it are always very positive about it and hopeful to see it released. I really just hope I can get it released before people don't care, or someone doesn't do a poor job of ripping it off like I've seen before. As always though, the server is the real limiter. If I had someone working on the server, I'd be much more willing to focus on the remaining client issues and try to get this project out there. Maybe at some point the client code will be basically done, and all I'd have to work on is the server, making me somewhat more willing to work on it myself. But even if so, I wouldn't have the same drive/enthusiasm to do so as I do the client code.

Anyway, the Z-Band project is getting even closer to release worthy now. In fact, soon I may start sending it to a few testers and get some of my first real intended use of the program. I think I've tested it with another user as intended all of once since it was merged with ZNI last year. I wouldn't doubt that I tested it as such only once in 2008 either. It's certainly more ready now then ever!


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