Copap launcher

Development for CoPaP
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Psyco
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Copap launcher

Post by Psyco » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:20 pm

I am moving this weekend, and odds are good I am going to be without internet for a week or so (someone else just got told that it will take 13 days to get theirs hooked up) :-(

On the plus side this will give me a chance to work on something Themi has been pushing for a while.

Themi has been wanting a piece of copap software that will coordinate the download of needed haks and make it much easier for people to get everything sorted out. I have started looking at this and have already come up with a nice way of doing it.

The one thing we can gaurentee about anyone wanting to downlaod haks to play on copap is that they have an internet connection. As such we can get config info for the software in the form of an ini file from a website (such as this one) when the programme starts, that way it will always be up to date and we avoid the versioning issue that is common with client side software. So when a new server joins, or when someone updates a hak then we need to update a central online ini file and everyone using the client software will find out about it and be given teh chance to downlaod it.

The problem then becomes how do we get people to use this software. My thoughts were to also include similar functionality to ASK, people can launch nwn and login to any copap world from within the software.

Basically a new copap player will download this software, then everything else they need to do is coordinated by it. It will also mean that when new worlds join info about them gets pushed out to the players and will increase that worlds profile.

basically I am wanting any feedback from people here, and any ideas of things that you think may be a good addition (nb. may not make it in). You have 3-4 days tops to discuss this as that will be when I move, so have at it.

Current requirements:
- cross platform (windows, linux and mac)
- stand alone, no configuration needed client side
- able to download and unrar haks and tlk files into correct folder
- easy to use gui
- produce nag screen to update if new version of software released
- get hak and server info from a central online point
- allow people to store passwords for player or dm client, and login at the click of a button
- (maybe, but not in first version) allow people to enter additional non-copap servers
- provide common help topics (such as how to use autobic, or how to use extra heads for your character)
- provide links to popular override haks (e.g. cave ceiling override or bowstrings hak)
- help and additional content also configuable from a central online point.

Themicles
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Post by Themicles » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:41 pm

I'd like to see one configuration client-side, unless Linux has something akin to the Windows registry (doubt it). That configuration would be defining where your NWN dir is, so that the program can automatically extract and place the file in the right place.

This would mean, though, that the program will have to be able to extract at least one file type. My recommendation would be RAR. The problem is, I do not want to have to recompress tilesets that we did not make, for instance.

I would also like to see if we can get permission to directly link to NWVault downloads... I doubt they'll allow it, but *free* bandwidth not needed by our game servers is something HARD to come by right now. Maybe if we offered to allow a banner to be displayed in the program that is specified by them (it looks to them for the banner info). I know a lot of you HATE ads, even if they're non-intrusive... Some of you seem to hate something just by principle, even if it's not truly causing any problem, or getting in the way... I remember the outcry when BioWare redid the NWN main menu to advertise the Premium mods... It didn't affect gameplay any, but people still bitched. I dunno about you, but I don't sit there and stare at the main menu. Hell, I bypass it most of the time with my direct connect shotcuts... /ad-whiner-rant. :P

I *might* be able to host files once I get my new web hosting account set up (1 terabyte a month ;) ). But we really shouldn't bank on that. We need redundancy. We can't rely on a single host like we did with HarveyH's mirror.

I know we also talked about a pretty advanced feature in a launcher in the past... Tracking what server you last logged out of with a given character. But I understand that's probably FAR too advanced, and difficult for the scope of this project. It could involve anything from memory space hacking, packet sniffing and hacking, and any number of things that are not exactly easy.
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Psyco
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Post by Psyco » Mon Mar 13, 2006 5:27 pm

It will need some client side configuration regardless. Unless of course we want the passwords in the online ini. The location of the game install will be one of the things that has to be client side.

What I have mapped out so far for ini layout will allow for multiple download mirrors, and we can include a "download" option that links to nwvault or a "download and install" option for where we are in control of the format.

As for ads, it would be possible to display ads to either generate $$ for copap, or ads we put in ourselves to publicise different worlds or other things that come up. Of course that would expose us to bickering about who gets the $$ or the classic "but they got more exposure than me" arguments that always come with that type of system. Personally I don't think ads are a good idea unless we use them as leverage for someone like nwvault or to pay for hosting of the haks ourselves.

As for tracking the last server you logged out of, that could be made as simple as when it detects nwn has shut down it pops up a box saying "you logged in to _______" and asking which server you logged out of, giving the default option of the one you logged in on, but giving a drop list of all others. Sure the user needs to put in a little effort, but it wouldn't kill them. With that though you also get the alt issue, one char may be on hala, but the other left and is in Elysia. So if that was turned on you would need a way to register your characters so that the location of each could be tracked.

Themicles
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Post by Themicles » Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:12 pm

Psyco wrote:Unless of course we want the passwords in the online ini.
Well, no, of course not. ;)
Psyco wrote:Personally I don't think ads are a good idea unless we use them as leverage for someone like nwvault or to pay for hosting of the haks ourselves.
I feel the same way. I don't think we should do ads for ads sake in this. We should only do it for the reason bolded in your quote, if we did it at all. Still, it'd be nice to have that option already there, even if we probably wont use it.
Psyco wrote:As for tracking the last server you logged out of, that could be made as simple as when it detects nwn has shut down it pops up a box saying "you logged in to _______" and asking which server you logged out of, giving the default option of the one you logged in on, but giving a drop list of all others. Sure the user needs to put in a little effort, but it wouldn't kill them. With that though you also get the alt issue, one char may be on hala, but the other left and is in Elysia. So if that was turned on you would need a way to register your characters so that the location of each could be tracked.
Well, a way to create server profiles for each character would be nice.
Example:
This is my first time opening it, so it prompts me asking if I want to set up and save the passwords for each of the servers pulled from the INI file. If I chose yes, I'll type in each password. If I chose no, I go ahead. From here, I can chose to either use the vanilla launcher with no character tracking, or chose to use Character Profiles. I choose Character Profiles and it informs me that I don't have any profiles set up. So it'll prompt me for a character name. Once I input the character name, it asks me what server I'd like to log into. I select the server, and log in. When I log out, it prompts asking what server I was last on, with a drop down list of the available servers as retrieved from the INI.

Next time I open it, I can either choose the servers menu, or the character menu. If I choose the character menu, I select a character from the list, and it logs me into the last recorded server. If the character doesn't have a last recorded server, it prompts me to choose one.

Make sense? I think that's what you were getting at, just trying to suggest the fleshing out of it. ;)

Oh, and the character profile setup... Would you be able to have it allow you to choose your character's portrait from NWN's portraits dir? There's the problem that the standard portraits aren't in that directory though... hrm. Would just be nice to have your character's portrait displayed for character profiles if they're done.

Now, what about the launching itself? It could launch just like the direct connect shortcuts do, or ASK for example. But there is also *some* way to tell NWN to log in with a specific character... I mean, it's done during portalling. When you portal even between Avlis servers, you are actually relogging into BioWare's authorization server, and the game is told which character to pick. I highly doubt we can do that from the command line though... *sigh* Again that'd probably come down to hacking.

Guess I'll settle for manual character choosing.

Forgive me if any of my ideas get too ambitious. I'm just speaking as someone who sometimes has a hard time keeping track of where my character last was. Especially when playing any alts.
"A wise man does not dwell on his past. He learns from it, he grows from it, and then moves ahead into his future." -me

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Post by p0m » Mon Mar 13, 2006 11:04 pm

Themicles wrote: Now, what about the launching itself? It could launch just like the direct connect shortcuts do, or ASK for example. But there is also *some* way to tell NWN to log in with a specific character... I mean, it's done during portalling. When you portal even between Avlis servers, you are actually relogging into BioWare's authorization server, and the game is told which character to pick. I highly doubt we can do that from the command line though... *sigh* Again that'd probably come down to hacking.
Hate to be a party pooper, but the linux client doesn't support launching particular servers from the command line. Doubt it will. Ever.

Themicles
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Post by Themicles » Tue Mar 14, 2006 1:32 am

p0m wrote:
Themicles wrote: Now, what about the launching itself? It could launch just like the direct connect shortcuts do, or ASK for example. But there is also *some* way to tell NWN to log in with a specific character... I mean, it's done during portalling. When you portal even between Avlis servers, you are actually relogging into BioWare's authorization server, and the game is told which character to pick. I highly doubt we can do that from the command line though... *sigh* Again that'd probably come down to hacking.
Hate to be a party pooper, but the linux client doesn't support launching particular servers from the command line. Doubt it will. Ever.
Without a launcher, this app will be little more than a stand-alone, glorified, downloads page.

I hate to say it, but if Linux can't support it, too bad, that shouldn't mean that the other versions shouldn't have it. Honestly, the Linux NWN community is extremely small, and anyone who managed to get it setup on Linux already knows they were getting themselves into a load of trouble, not ease of use.

There's no reason this program can't offer it to the other OS's, and simply disable it for Linux. But really, if that's the case for Linux, it's not exactly a "launcher". ;)
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Post by JollyOrc » Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:12 am

Get Lafferty on board, he already sketched out something like this.

IIRC, he even thought of including a bittorrent client, to fasten up the distribution of the haks.
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Themicles
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Post by Themicles » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:26 am

JollyOrc wrote:IIRC, he even thought of including a bittorrent client, to fasten up the distribution of the haks.
If that can be done, great... But I'd rather it not be the sole option. Should be able to choose between mirror with auto-install, bittorrent with auto-install (if done), and NWVault links (NWVault with auto-install if we can work some kind of deal with them. I mean, they have the bandwidth, we don't.)
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Psyco
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Post by Psyco » Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:45 pm

Bittorrent is written in python, the same thing i was looking at for this. Assuming code is out there somewhere (no idea if it is, i haven't looked) it would be possible to include it. But that would not be a priority for the first round even if it were to go in later.

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Post by terryrayc » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:41 pm

there are a few open soruce bittorrect clients out there...so that wouldn't be a problem.
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