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Modification Project Talkabout

Welcome to the second mod project massive-interview-style features. The goal of this new regular column? To hopefully spread some ideas regarding mod design, as well as get more projects involved in sharing their opinions, ideas, and finer points of design concept. The questions asked from week to week will be varied. Today's question happens to be:

"How does your team's design plan cover installation? Have you thought this far ahead yet? Do you have secret plans? Do you wish someone would create a standard installer that could be customized to every mod? Do you plan to use a system that has already been released (DXLoader, TeamUC's Modloader)?"

So, without further delay, here come the answers. Are you a project who would like to be involved? We probably just missed you by accident (though we did try to contact at least one rep from each team). Get ahold of us here.

Participating projects this round:

-Crimson Death

-The Cassandra Project

-Warzone

-DX Vampire

-The Nameless Mod

-Disclosure

-Redsun 2020

The Answers

We'll probably use the same installer I used for my little custom weapons package. Clickteam's install program is very flexible and can do pretty much anything you'd need it to do. The other option would be creating an UMOD, which would also work well, so there might be both versions.

Secret plans? I'll bet there isn't anyone out there who doesn't have secret plans for their project; everyone has their own secret plans.

We won't be using a mod launcher as it's much easier in my opinion when our install program will do all the work for the user and install everything correctly so all the person really has to do is just click on the shortcut and "Viola!". That's why full scale mods are good -- they don't need much outside help to get working. It's very simple to install and uninstall them.

Raptor
Project Leader, Warzone
Warzone


I have Steve Tack who has created a FULL installation program for our MOD. :D We is done and already tested it out. It works great. This is what we already have done;

VERSION 2.0
1. When you download our mod, it will be in compressed format in an exe file.
2. You simply click on it and everything will be automaticly installed.
3. The program will ask you if you want an ICON on your desktop.
4. We have a specail custom Redsun Icon to click on to start the game.
5. We have custom redsun SPLASH before the main menu.
6. We have full custom main menu with Redsun MUSIC. :D
7. We have our CREDITS included...all you need to do is to push the credits and it will have custom music, and scolling credits.
8. We have full cinematic introduction!
9. All the redsun maps are created in the redsun directory.
10. We have a complete uninstall program when you are finished.
11. We even have REDUN menu under windows Program. It works with all windows versions!

We are currently working on VERSION 3.0 and should be ready for testing next month!
Version 3.0 will have the following;
1. Full installation for the MACINTOSH!!!!
2. Custom sounds for the main menu
3. Add a special FLASH animated introdution when you click on the redsun icon. After the animation the main menu will show up.
4. The multiplayer button is grayed out. :D
5. Some other stuff but I forget now.....

As you see, ours is completely customized and we are not using the DXLoader program.

As for a standard templete for others to use....hmmm....I will have to ask Steve Tack about that.

Odaiba
Project Leader, Redsun 2020
http://www.planetdeusex.com/redsun/

The issue of mod installation, in my mind, has long been a problem factoring in to the decreasing life of the DX community. A few mod's have come out with very nice and easy to use installer, Face's Disclosure Demo installation program comes to mind. These work great and can be used by anyone. The general problem is that they are not standardized. If the DX community could collaborate on a mod installer that was versatile enough to be used by everyone it would help all the mods out greatly.

The only problem with standardization seems to be that it doesn't work too well. I have yet to come accros and standard mod or addon for DX the is used by all. The UC Mod loader managed to proliferate quite a bit, but there is still not a set standard, many people just supply a text file with their map and tell you where to put the files, which is fine if you know a bit about the file structures.

Our mod currently has no concrete plans for installation, although we have basically been assuming we will make an installation program similar to Faces'. While the various modloaders out there are good, they still require people to place certain files in different folders and edit Deusex.ini which is just to hard for some people. As for secret plans, well, we don't have any, and if we did, I wouldn't tell you, would I;)

And there you have it, maybe I'll let someone else on the mod team answer next time, perhaps Ghand? Well, maybe not Ghand:)

Trestkon
Project Leader, The Nameless Mod
http://www.planetdeusex.com/tnm

The installation issue has been one of much discussion. I myself have been talking to other mod leaders about how they intend to handle it, and we've been trading ideas etc. At the moment, Vampire will be attempting to make the installation and running of the game as easy and painless as possible for the end user. To this end we are going to have a simple, click-and-go installer that will read the registry for the Deus Ex install folder and install the files. Then to run it, instead of isolating other mods, Vampire will have a desktop/taskbar shortcut that will handle all the necessary ini file alterations so that again, the user can just click-and-go. Once they are finished playing, the files will be returned to their original forms, allowing other mods and the original Deus Ex to be played without any interference from the Vampire files.

I think a standard installer would be nice if it could cover everything any mod is likely to need and make it relatively easy for mod makers to set-up. Also, current mod-loaders put the onus on the end user to edit their files to make the mod loader work. Why can't they have installers for them?

Damocles
Project Leader, Vampire
http://www.planetdeusex.com/vampire/

"How does your team's design plan cover installation? Have you thought this far ahead yet?"

No. We're following ISA's lead.

"Do you have secret plans?"

Yes. To conquer the multiverse. We've already said that.

"Do you wish someone would create a standard installer that could be customized to every mod?"

We wish there were enough sucessful mods to make that worthwhile.

The Narcissus Entity
The Cassandra Project
http://www.deusex-machina.com/cassandra-project

Ease of installation is an important part of the design plan for Disclosure. What I found was that players don’t want to spend time manually editing, copying and installing files to get a modification to work, it is usually the case that they give up if they can’t get things working immediately. It is a serious area that is often overlooked by mod and mission makers alike, inevitably resulting in the player putting the files into their recycle bin.

The recent release of the Disclosure Demo was packaged with a bespoke installation and removal program that did all the hard work for the player. This involved locating the Deus Ex installation directory, copying files to their correct locations and making all of the necessary changes to the Deus Ex configuration files to get Disclosure working. In addition to this, a detailed log file is created to highlight step by step what gets done, allowing troubleshooting to be fairly easy.

From this early version of the installation and removal program I have had valuable feedback from players, this has enabled me to build on its success and create an even better method of installation. When the final version of Disclosure is released, the player will have a number of choices as to how Disclosure is installed, including the following:

- Total Changeover
This is similar to the way the demo installation took place - no other modifications or the original Deus Ex game can be played simultaneously.

- Desktop

Files are installed to the correct locations as before, but no changes are made to the Deus Ex configuration files, instead a new icon is created on the players Desktop (Windows). When a player wishes to play Disclosure, they simply double click on the Disclosure icon from the Desktop and the modification will start. This allows the player to continue playing Deus Ex or any other modifications that they have installed whilst being able to play Disclosure whenever they choose.

In all instances the Multiplayer functionality will continue to be available.

I chose to use a custom installation method for Disclosure because the mod loaders currently available for Deus Ex still require some form of installation, which does put some players off. With the additional log file capability of the Disclosure installation program, players are rarely at a loss for any problems that may arise.

It is my intention to modify the installer and uninstaller programs so that other modifications can make use of them, right down to the files that are copied, the changes that are made to the Deus Ex configuration files and the text that is displayed. This will probably be released sometime before the Disclosure modification, so if there are any other mods who would like to use the installer/uninstaller, they are welcome to drop me a line for information.

Face
Project leader, The Disclosure Project
http://www.facedesigns.co.uk

Since the interview question mentions secret plans, we at the Cabal of Technophiles can't resist the opportunity to state that we have lots of secret plans. However, our installation plans aren't secret.

Duplicity is going to be a huge mod, as far as disk space is concerned, with edited maps, extra code, the female JC voice files, and so on. It would be unreasonable to ask the player to install all that by hand, even with clear directions. So, professional-grade installer/uninstallers for both the Mac and the PC have been in our development plans from the beginning. At this date, we are looking at creating our own Mac installer that does exactly what we want, and Bogeyman is in fact already working on that. For the PC version we're probably going to use the NSIS installer, recommended to TechImmortal by Steve Tack.

In addition, we are now discussing a "switcher", for players with enough hard disk space who want to be able to switch back and forth between the original and Duplicity versions of Deus Ex.

We are also going to release minor fixes and changes (Deus Extras) to the original game that mostly are too small to require special installation. These will probably come with simple install instructions for the player.

We don't need a "loader" in the sense this is often meant, because our mod isn't a new story, but an expansion of Deus Ex. Once the player installs Duplicity and starts the game, they will automatically be playing Duplicity.

What do we wish for? That with Deus Ex 2, the community gets an easy system for installing and loading mods, such as the umod setup for Unreal Tournament.

TechImmortal
Technophile, The Cabal of Technophiles
http://www.woolyloach.com/cot.html

Well, currently I am experimenting with MindVise. But the mod is still early in the development stage, so we have a ways to go before that comes into play. I think that a standard mod installer would be a great idea, not only for the creators of mods, but for players. Mods can be a frustrating POS to get working right. If I had a nickel for everytime I have tried to install CounterStrike with some sort of problem, I would have a lot of nickels! A standard mod installer would make things much easier for the end user to enjoy the fruits of our labors. As I have stated earlier, Rifts is still early in development. So if something were to come out that was accepted as a standard for DX mods, sure we would go with it. And if I told you what kinda secrets we had in store for you, they wouldn't be secrets anymore! Plus, I would have to kill you, and I don't think anyone wants that, now do you?

Paul Nortness
Project Leader, Crimson Death
http://crimsondeath.topcities.com

And there you have it. Tune in in a few more weeks for the next installment. Got a certain question you think would be a fantastic prompt? Feel free to suggest those as well.















     
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