News: Thoughts About Z-Net I

Thursday, June 06, 2013

It seems my last post was premature about my comments relating to Z-Net I. It's starting to seem like the surge in population was just a fluke, and just due to a direct result of releasing a new version. I didn't think much of it the first day that I recently observed a population decline. I figured it could still be an anomaly the second day. And the couple days after that I've accepted the truth. Despite all my efforts. The countless hours of work theses past months on refining and adding to Z-Net I to make it the best possible program it can be, it's all been a waste of time and effort.

It seems no matter what I do, the community is always going to be self destructive. In the past I might blame myself for this. I'd blame the fact that there are currently some bugs that have gone unfixed due to their complexity. But that's not it. At this point, if Z-Net I is a failure, it's purely on the users. To backup this claim, here's a list of how the Z-Net I users hurt the success of this program, and in turn hurt themselves.
  • Leaving Z-Net I to quickly after joining.
  • Not advertizing Z-Net I to other websites.
  • Incorrectly representing Z-Net I to other users.
  • Not posting reports about bugs.
  • Not participating in conversations in the Chat Lobby.
  • Unwillingness to host game rooms.
  • Unwillingness to play different games. (crucial with a low population)

These all play major roles in holding Z-Net I back. These are all out of my hands. You may not view them as a serious issue and think I'm exaggerating things. But you would be wrong. You may think it's my job to tackle these problem, but it's not. Still, despite that I have made efforts to do so wherever/whenever I could. But this is a community dependent/driven program. At its most fundamental level, 1 user needs another user to play with, meaning 1 user is dependent on another. It makes it sound like some sort of scheme, but essentially each users needs to bring in other users to the community. You can't just expect to reap the benefits of the community, but fail to contribute to it in the slightest. At least not at this point when the population is still small.

New users come from 1 of 2 ways. Randomly stumbling upon Z-Net I through search engine queries or web pages/posts. Or from a friend telling another friend. The latter helps the community very little, as often that friend ends up only playing with the other friend, neither talk on the forums/lobby, and only really contribute the most bare minimum to the community (temporarily boosting the user count). The former is where Z-Net I needs help the most, and it contributes the most to Z-Net I's health. Again, you may think that's my job. But with a community driven program, it isn't. Though I still have invested a hefty amount of effort into it anyway. In fact, lets look at what I've done to help boost the communities/populations health.
  • Create Z-Net I to help former zbattle users have a place to play again.
  • Design and manage website.
  • Design and manage forum.
  • Add ballontip guide for new users.
  • Spent countless time on solving the connection issues present in v1.1 and before.
  • Constantly refine the website for higher rankings on search engines.
  • Submit the existence of Z-Net I to many emulation news sites.
  • Paid money out of my pocket so the Z-Net website could have a stable URL.
  • Combed the internet for links to zbattle or dead Z-Net links, and contacted whoever I could to get them changed.
  • Do 100% of the moderation of Z-Net I all by myself.
  • Designed 1 of the new user ballontips to target and remind users to not leave to quickly.
  • Added and refined the Chat Lobby feature.
  • Added several features that help in some way or another, like Regions, Ignore lists, room presets.
  • Made strides, even though ignored, to appeal to/partner with other communities.
  • Recently purged 90% of the ban list, giving past trouble makers another chance.
  • Spent countless hours on v1.2, after declaring before that I was done with ZNI.
  • Listened directly to user requests and made additions to the program.

Of course a lot of this it's natural for me to do as the developer of the program. But that doesn't diminish the amount of work and effort at all. But so you understand my position an how I feel, look over that list and tell ask yourself, if you were me would you feel all that time and effort spent on that would be worth it for the Z-Net I population and community to not grow beyond what you currently see when you log in? All that work these past several months, just to see the Z-Net I population bounce back to were its been? If you don't answer "No", you're lying to yourself.

All my recent work was done in hopes of seeing the the population grow, and community thrive. Not stay the same. So here I am at this point where I'm now thinking of quitting the ZNI project again. What I'm thinking of is, if I don't see the user count hit 30 due to almost all unique users by some date, then I'm done. I might even shut the program down again. It just doesn't make sense to leave it going for user base of which %90 contribute to its own destruction. Or of which the majority feel/act like they're entitled to everything, or are just downright ungrateful.

What would this mean for Z-Net 3 and Z-Band?  I don't know. The community failure of ZNI could certainly represent the same potential for those projects as well. I enjoy programming, but after I finish a release I need to see a reasonible amount of user acceptence for the project, or else all that effort seems wasted. I don't want to deal with this type of situation again.

I'm not ready to declare this 30 users by the end of this month or next month as my official stance just yet. But I would certainly like see the Z-Net I community take it seriously and start working to fix the problems they're creating and meet or exceed this goal.


Willie Williams said...

You just need to get the word out. You should submit your program to emulation sites such as Zophar's Domain ( where others can learn about your program through a news posting and you should improve the meta tags on your site so it's easier to find. Use tags such as "" " replacement" "play snes games online" "zsnes chat" "zsnes lobby" "zsnes netplay lobby" etc. It took me over 20 minutes to find this site and I was looking specifically for this type of program. It's not just that, you want people who don't even know this type of program exists to find out that it does. Just be patient as well. When I first released my Rom Graphics Cracker - by SS8Gogeta, it took a while but it eventually took off.

DarkAkuma said...

Like I responded to on your exact same post on he Z-Net forum, your suggestion I do exactly what I've already done.

I have been scrapping the bottom of the barrel with what I can do myself to help get the project more known. When I repeatedly claim that the users need to try/help more, I don't do so without reason, nor do I put all the burden on them but not lift a finger myself.

Hands down, the best way for these projects to become known is by users posting links, and telling other people about it anywhere they can.

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