Z-Net I, The zbattle Alternative

NOTICE: This page is no longer relevant. Please go to http://www.z-net.us/ for further info related this project. This is the projects new Homepage. This page here will just be left for preservation purposes for now, and may be removed later.



Project Status:

  • 100% Complete to goals. Proper testing, resulting bug fixes, and misc fine tuning excluded.
  • Privately released.
  • Active.
  • Minimum interest level reached. Being worked on/tested in preparation for being fully released.


About:

Z-Net I is a 3rd installment in the evolution of the Z-Net projects. It's source code origins comes from a project I created in 2010 that I labeled "ZB-Net". That project was an exact GUI and feature clone of the unaffiliated project known as zbattle. I created that source code purely as a 1 week challenge to myself and to alleviate boredom. Because that was such a blatant clone of someone elses project, I never intended to release it, only desiring it to be a "proof of concept".

Being that it started as a clone of the zbattle program, it's features are exactly the same. The major difference of the two projects is purely that this project uses a IRC server rather then a custom built privately owned and maintained server binary/url. Effectively, for the user there is no difference as this is behind the scenes stuff. But a key difference in favor of using a IRC server like this is project longevity stemming from that, if the server ever goes down, another one can be chosen relatively easily, and for free. This method is something I strongly believed in and founded my previous Z-Net projects on.

This project is 100% done, outside of testing and bug fixing. Every notable feature or element of zbattle, I have already worked on and finished in the week long development period 2 years ago. Since I didn't plan to make the project public, ironing out the bugs wasn't worth my time, if I even had testers to help find them.

In light of the recent disappearance of zbattle, I've reassessed it's potential release as a public project, and created this page for anyone who may be interested to know of the projects existence, and voice their desires to see it released.


Conditions for Release:

UPDATE: The minimum amount of interest in seeing this project has been reached. So I have begone work on getting it ready.

UPDATE 2: This program has now been released privately on my forums for limited semi public beta testing. This makes a lot of this page no longer relevant.

Certain criteria would have to be met including, zbattle going offline for a significant amount of time or permanently combined with a reasonably strong demand from potential users, or direct expressed desire/support of the zbattle project manager to merge zbattle into Z-Net. I have no desire to try and compete with other projects like these anymore, nor do I think it would be appropriate to release a blatant clone project while the source project is still active. However, I do view picking up the pieces of a shattered community following the source project, after it has died with no sign of returning, would purely be a service to its users at the very least, and I would gladly release my project if those users desired me to.

I've chosen the condition regarding users significantly voicing their desires for the project due to my past experiences with this type of project concerning population. Simply put, low population further feeds a lack of population. Also, to release this program properly, mainly regarding testing and bug fixes as well as continued maintenance, it would require a commitment of my time of which I'm not willing to gamble on a project like this anymore.


What you can do:

There are a couple ways for you to help with the project at this stage.

First, simply vote on the poll above. A sufficient amount of votes on that poll shows me that there are enough people who would want this.

If you want to help more, you can link to this blog/page. There's only so much I can and will do to attract users to this blog regarding this project. Z-Net and zbattle are VERY community reliant programs, and as such they rely heavily on the users and word-of-mouth to attract attention. Forum posts in community's that would genuinely be interested in this project, or links from main pages of websites or blogs would go a long way. Specifically directing people to vote on the poll above would help the most right now.

And of course, telling your friends directly. IM, email, speaking or whatever gets the job done.

If you choose to help by attracting former zbattle users, you may find it helpful to include this quotable from me below.

In my boredom a couple years ago I created a 100% working clone of zbattle that I have never released. Now that zbattle seems to be dead, the criteria for me to actually release it has been half met. The other half requiring enough interest from players. Simply, if you want it, show your interest by voting on the poll on my blog and/or spreading the word to others who may be interested as well.

-- DarkAkuma



Features:

  • Play multiplayer games online with the Super Nintendo emulator ZSNES.
  • Eliminates the need to find and trade IP addresses with friends for use with ZSNES online multiplayer games.
  • Quickly and easily find new people to play with, through use of a simple clean list.
  • When hosting a game room, you can send the other player the game if they don't have it, through a simple click of a button.
  • Have sounds play when a player joins your room, or when a player sends a message.
  • Kick people who you don't want to play with from your game room.
  • Ensure both players have the same exact game file through use of a CRC check.


Future Plans:

Assuming the conditions for release are ever met, the direction of the project is undecided. The project could basically go one of a few ways:

  • Remain as a clone of zbattle, with no updates other then bug fixes or fixes to other issues.
  • Use the current zbattle design purely as a base, but drastically try to improve and distance itself  as its own program. Most likely consisting of a GUI revamp and feature additions. Possibly even rethinking the way it works, from the ground up.
  • Some hybrid combination of modernizing the GUI, or not. Adding new features, or not., etc.
  • Leave it as a clone of zbattle, but just lightly upgrade it overtime, as if that would be how zbattle may have been upgraded over the years had it ever had a competent developer at its reigns.

While much remains uncertain, if this project ever did get released, I would try to rely on user input as much as possible to help guide the direction of the project. Perhaps through polls or comments/posts/emails.

If my ideas were the sole guiding path for the project, I could use numerous ideas that were incorporated into, or thought of with my past projects. But I believe those ideas were sometimes double-edged swords, and possibly hurt the projects as much as helped as I didn't always truly know what the users would want. Still, ideas for upgrading the project aren't completely off the table, and could include:

  • Support for game files being in .zip files.
  • Central shared chatroom.
  • Support for emulators other then ZSNES.
  • Score tracking such as with my Z-Band project.
  • GUI customization.
  • Separate listings for different player languages.
  • Friend lists.
  • Ignore lists.
  • Player profiles.
  • Random game selecting/match making mode.
  • TCP/IP support.
  • Some sort of tunneling software integration.


Downloads:

N/A

Check the Z-Net homepage for downloads.



Screenshots:

I used a Windows XP style I custom made myself that's designed to look exactly like the default 3, except black/grey. So ignore that as thinking its part of the program itself. This seems to be from earlier in my week of developing the project, as the "Game Name" column is indented. A bug I fixed before I finished it. Also the windows are opened from a client perspective, who seems to have joined the "Lets play!" game room, but the listing doesn't reflect a client as having joined. Something I'm sure I would have noticed and fixed before my week was done. And the icon is a copy of the old one I used with the Z-Net 1.x mIRC combo pack.

This pic I took in the later part of 2011, after I created this blog. It shows the settings window. Not much going on. This is of course of a final build of the program. Its using a new icon I mocked up for it in the last days of it's development, and though you can't see it since I didn't feel like logging in 2 clients, the indent bug I mentioned in the other pic is gone.

11 comments:

Corwii said...

I'm really looking forward to something now since Zbattle is down :(. Tried Hamachi but no one seems to want to play which makes no since why they would join a zsnes server just to sit around. Can't seem to find anything that works as good as Zbattle, I'm really missing it :(.

DarkAkuma said...

I can't speak for hamachi, as I don't know everything about it. But from my experience with IRC and my previous 2 Z-Nets, people idled around even when they weren't playing to socialize with people who obviously share interests with them. It's something I encouraged then, as I felt a friendly atmosphere and community should/could be a huge draw for a project like this.

However, as I learned, that's not probably the best idea for a channel/server when it still has a small number of users. It's kind of a lie to new users who join and think "nice, I have 15 people I could potentially play with!" only to find all of them just want to chat at the moment or are afk.

There's no helping that issue other then growing a project to a overall user total that almost guarantees a reasonable total number of the users at any given time are willing/ready to play.

But, there plans of action to make that issue as little of a problem as possible. My plan with Z-Net 3.0 is to not have the central chat room enabled until the projects user base reached such a number.

As a side not, if hamachi servers are anything like one of the follys with the way I designed Z-Net 2.0, just because you don't see anyone listed as playing, doesn't mean they aren't any. With ZN2 I made the gamelist window so that once 2 people started playing together, their listing was removed. My idea behind that was "Who cares if 2 people are playing with each other? If they are, their busy and can't play with me right now. I don't need to see them listed!". While that reasoning has merit, it's counterproductive to the growth of the program by making people think less people are playing then there are. This, like a chat room, is a feature to be considered and added later after a projects user base has grown. And even then, it should be a client side option.

Corwii said...

Yeah, I see your points now. I was just stating that, why would people join something like this only to chat about other things rather that use it for what it was intended for. Considering that there are messengers for talking about everything else lol. Why use an online gaming server and waste space just to talk? Though I can understand if they are taking a break after playing a match so there is really no sure way of knowing why I guess.

I think it's a good idea to take users off the list when they are in-game, if it's 2 player based anyways but like you said, people may think there are less online. But as long as there is a (Users online) counter on the top like Zbattle there shouldn't be an issue. Plus you wouldn't need the player count because if it's in the list, you can join.

So far, the way I understand how your handling things, it looks pretty promising. I hope people continue to spread the word about this project. Maybe this could be something big with lots of people itching for action. Ah dreams do come true ;)

xZabuzax said...

Now that zbattle is down peoples will love a replacement, this one looks good enough for our needs.

Cheers and keep up the good work dude.

Shark said...

Great Job man!!! Z-Net is helping us so much!!!

Mortal Kombat Online Community Brasil

http://www.orkut.com.br/Community?cmm=8820414

DarkAkuma said...

That community has already essentially been banned, thanks to 1 guy leaking the download of the file. The file is only supposed to be available off my forums, and for people who can actually contribute in clear English about issues.

I'd ask that any links to the download be removed please. It's by far more that that has upset me then a massive wave of non-English speakers. If all links to the file have been removed, I'd be open to discussion with a community representative.

This has not been a good start for any of the Brazilian SNES online community, as I've heard almost unanimously bad things and was hoping they would prove none of it was true.

If such things continue to be proved, more drastic steps may need to be taken in the future. Which would be sad.

JacerX said...

Hello, do you know when the forums will be back up? I would love to register on there and get into the public beta if I could.

DarkAkuma said...

They're up now. I believe they were at the time of your post as well.

Things have been hit by a double whammy lately with the forum server host happening to go down at about the same time as the new domain name was resolving. But they are in fact working now.

If you're still having issues, you may need to try a web proxy server. I have no idea why but it seems some people are just unable to reach the server at any time from their location.

Corwii said...

Awwww yeah, thanks man ;). Looks like it's working great, haven't tried playing yet though. Gonna give it a shot ;).

Hamelth Villalobos said...

long live z-net! i miss zbattle.

Hamelth Villalobos said...

btw, just came across this since i've gotten back to emulators and remembering the good o' zbattle days brought me to this search, and had no ideal zbattle died. I'm glad you've taken the time to build this. I will try it as soon as i get home from work.

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