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Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356415] Tue, 15 January 2019 01:12 Go to next message
jpanic

 
Messages:5
Registered:November 2015
Hi all,

I am a long-time fan of JA2 1.13, wavering between AIMNAS and AFS mods. I am a busy professional with a young family and usually only get very limited days in the year to devote to a good run.

One thing that always frustrates me and I feel holds back enjoying the game is the difficulty of, every time I want to load a game, going through the process of having to separately update and install the various mods. Also if you do a single thing wrong and it crashes this usually means re-starting from scratch. Sometimes I have spent over half a day trying various installs and it's very disheartening to see the red text, remember something like one needs to install the Windows 10 patch as well, and lose so much time.

Another frustrating thing is having to go through the .ini settings each and every time that you re-download, to change all the settings to one's preference. It would seem to be a great project if a launcher could keep some "persistent" .ini settings that it would apply to freshly downloaded updates where the .ini settings are in the new updates.

Something I feel would take the more usual experience to the "next level" would be a proper updating launcher that updated the .exe and game data, kept persistent settings, similar to the launcher one is familiar with things like World of Tanks or XCOM 2, which could simply on launch check for updates from one of the stable repositories, let one check and uncheck different mods (eg Aimnas, UC AFS), and apply persistent settings, then launch the game in a stable and "just works" way.

I am wondering if anyone of the experienced modders who have broader Windows programming skills and experience would be interested in, as a properly paid-for casual job, doing this as a project (for Windows 10)? If so, please feel free to contact me either privately or how you prefer.
Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356417 is a reply to message #356415] Tue, 15 January 2019 11:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
sevenfm

 
Messages:1846
Registered:December 2012
Location: Soviet Russia
I don't think what you want is possible, with the way 1.13 modding works. There's no central place where all mods are stored and updated.
The closest thing for those busy people who want to try various mods without understanding how it works is probably my unofficial 7609 modpack.
All you need to do is extract it somewhere and add missing SLF files to data folder (or unpack it over existing clear vanilla ja2 folder, but remember to never run vanilla ja2.exe in 1.13 folder).
For the game to work with win10, using registry patch should be enough (open with notepad, change path to your ja2.exe, run .reg file, don't forget that you need to use '\\' instead of '\'), or copy supplied DLLs into game folder as an alternate way to run ja2.exe on modern systems.
In my modpack, all common user settings are stored in Data-User, so you can set some options and they will be used in all mods. By default there are some options provided for balance and convenience.

My modpack works only with stable 7609 (so no modern Aimnas, though it's possible to play aimnas maps on 7609). It should be possible to make similar modpack for unstable releases, but there are very few mods that will work with it (Aimnas, AFS/UC, Wildfire 6.07 and maybe simple modpacks like NO maps), and I'm personally not interested in it.
There are also SCIs for Vengeance:Reloaded and Arulco Vacation mods that are easy to install (just unpack them over clean vanilla ja2).

Also, red text when you start the game usually is not something bad, it shows that some options are missing and default values are used instead, the game should still work well.

[Updated on: Tue, 15 January 2019 14:35]




7609+fix | 7609+AI (r960) | 7609 unofficial modpack | Win8+ fix | Experimental project | Vengeance:Reloaded | Youtube

"It's already "dog-eat-dog", friend. Not sure what worse a bunch of zombies could do."


Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356418 is a reply to message #356417] Tue, 15 January 2019 14:16 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shanga

 
Messages:3528
Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia
Some things are do-able. Others would require a constant update service which can only function as a business. And when it comes to modding, that's a no-go, due to IP and rights. An app that would be do-able would basically require a "kit" vanilla JA2 (provided by the user) and it would handle the menial tasks of making separate installs for each mod, apply needed patches, etc. But that's about how far it can go. What sevenfm did with his modpack is exactly what v1.13 was designed for. The releases aren't for public consumption, they are meant for modders to take, work on them, build new stuff and ONLY THEN publish as full mod stable mods. Over the years people have started using the devkit directly out of curiosity, but that wasn't the initial idea.

I do secretly hope though that one day someone would make a Steam Workshop or Nexus mods for JA2 v1.13. But I also want to win the lottery before that...

[Updated on: Tue, 15 January 2019 14:17]



Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356419 is a reply to message #356418] Tue, 15 January 2019 14:29 Go to previous messageGo to next message
sevenfm

 
Messages:1846
Registered:December 2012
Location: Soviet Russia
Maybe someone with a batch programming skills could make a win10_compatibility.bat file that will replace path to ja2.exe in current folder in a reg file (or creating new reg file in the same folder with correct path) and apply it automatically? It seems people sometimes have serous problems with changing path in reg file using notepad (and not forgetting to use '\\' instead of '\').
Then 1.13 makers and modders could place this file in their SCIs.

Apart from compatibility problems, if someone makes (and constantly updates) unstable modpack with all actual mods, that should be enough as all you need to do then is:
- download modpack
- unpack it over clean vanilla ja2
- run win10_compatibility.bat if needed
- select mod and resolution in ja2.ini manually using notepad or with INI Editor
- run Ja2.exe

All custom INI changes can be kept easily in a separate INI files in profile or a dedicated Data-User folder (they will be applied after default ini settings if you set something like "MERGE_INI_FILES = Ja2_Options.ini, Mod_Settings.ini, CTHConstants.ini, APBPConstants.ini, Skills_Settings.INI, Taunts_Settings.INI" in ja2.ini)



7609+fix | 7609+AI (r960) | 7609 unofficial modpack | Win8+ fix | Experimental project | Vengeance:Reloaded | Youtube

"It's already "dog-eat-dog", friend. Not sure what worse a bunch of zombies could do."


Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356421 is a reply to message #356415] Tue, 15 January 2019 14:56 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jahh

 
Messages:56
Registered:March 2017
jpanic wrote on Tue, 15 January 2019 01:12
"properly paid-for casual job"

can you define it more clear way, please?

[Updated on: Tue, 15 January 2019 14:57]

Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356428 is a reply to message #356417] Wed, 16 January 2019 00:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jpanic

 
Messages:5
Registered:November 2015
Thank you - I agree with all that - it's just every time I get a half-day off, the process for me is to log in to the forums and go through all those steps but also check nothing has changed. At a minimum it is downloading the latest SCI, then seeing if there's a newer .exe I can drop in, then getting the latest version of the mod. Once all those files have been downloaded, getting a clean install of JA2 gold, copying the 1.13 SCI in, copying the new .exe in, copying the new mod over, and then searching the readmes to see what I need to be doing about Windows 10 compatibility, all before I can even start re-doing all my own settings.

This isn't a complaint - it's a great thing that there is always improvements available! - and my post was only intended on finding out if I could support a launcher if there was a modder with the skills but who would need to be able to support the time involved.

Re the comment asking for it to be defined in a clearer way - the precise arrangements would depend on where the modder lives and their preferences (I live in Australia, I could offer a contracting arrangement under Australian conditions, but that might be perfectly useless for someone overseas). I'd initially thought about posting the job on general IT contracting websites but was concerned I'd be flooded with people who have no idea about JA2, whereas if there was an established modder with the skills that would be perfect. It is serious but I only want to communicate with credible people on details.

Re the comment about IP and copyright - I agree it couldn't do anything involving copying the base JA2 install but as a vehicle only for downloading and copying mod files, only doing what is permissible manually.
Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356432 is a reply to message #356428] Wed, 16 January 2019 18:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shanga

 
Messages:3528
Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia
I do believe most advanced coders here (and in general) underestimate how difficult and time consuming is for the regular player to perform all the menial and needed steps to get everything running. For someone working in IT or with code it's not such a hassle, that's what we do for a job, but for regular people everything is a massive headache.

So there's something worth exploring here.

I wonder what's Toxic doing, his VB tools we always very user-friendly...


Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356433 is a reply to message #356432] Wed, 16 January 2019 18:48 Go to previous messageGo to next message
edmortimer

 
Messages:1200
Registered:January 2015
Location: Home Free
Quote:
I do believe most advanced coders here (and in general) underestimate how difficult and time consuming is for the regular player to perform all the menial and needed steps to get everything running. For someone working in IT or with code it's not such a hassle, that's what we do for a job, but for regular people everything is a massive headache.

So there's something worth exploring here.


Definitely.




Arulco Vacations Blog

Arulco Vacations Bears Pit Forum


Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356434 is a reply to message #356433] Wed, 16 January 2019 20:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jahh

 
Messages:56
Registered:March 2017
edmortimer wrote on Wed, 16 January 2019 18:48
Quote:


So there's something worth exploring here.


Definitely.


Yes, and i guess most reasonable way is to explore a suggested budget first.
[Actually i occasionally know couple of people, who occasionally did the very exact similar as desired stuff in past (thats the only reason i bothered to ask): wrote a combo of launcher\downloader\updater for a some old games. As they dont care about JA2, its really unlikely they will ever note that certain proposal on their own, but what can i pass to them now beside:
"There is a some guy with a task to do for a cash, he have only 2 messages on obscure forum, but he's reliable as he claim so; also its a work for undisclosed fee coz he very vip, how about you'll go there and contact him, and won his trust, so maybe he will share further details with you?"
Ofc they wouldn't bother to waste their time on it this way.]
Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356436 is a reply to message #356434] Thu, 17 January 2019 01:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jpanic

 
Messages:5
Registered:November 2015
Janh,

Your response isn't helpful. My post was to open communications and not set out the terms of an offer capable of acceptance. I'm not proposing anyone start work for an "undisclosed fee" as my expectation is that all details would be agreed before work started. I am not asking for people to accept the arrangement would be credible simply because I say so on the internet, I would be happy to arrange a contract and funds in escrow once it was agreed. It would be a bit silly for a non-specialist to set out all the detailed terms without any feedback from anyone taking it up as to how long it might take and how they would want to work.

The reason I have not proposed an amount or arrangements is I am concerned (a) if I do so in a publicly accessible forum I'll get spammed and (cool the recipient may have their own proposal. They might for example say they're happy to do it for a lump sum, they might think it's fairer for an hourly rate if they think it's hard to assess how long it will take.

I am also using an "obscure" forum because it's where all the experienced modders likely to have an intimate knowledge of the project space regularly post.
Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356438 is a reply to message #356436] Thu, 17 January 2019 02:02 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shanga

 
Messages:3528
Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia
I think first a general discussion on what's actually possible is needed and this is what's happening. Perception is a tricky thing. "Complicated stuff" means something for jpanic, another thing for me and another completely different thing for sevenfm.

And I do think encourage contract negotiations to be actually held outside Bear's Pit forums (or at least in private messages). It's better that way for a multitude of reasons.


Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356441 is a reply to message #356438] Thu, 17 January 2019 03:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ZedJA2

 
Messages:174
Registered:January 2018
SUMMARY:

PROBLEM 1:
-- the ini and xml files have all sorts of options distributed all over the place and placement changes, so compatability is hard for a user to keep with his old set-up.
PROBLEM 2:
-- the options files even if they were concentrated back into one file, for setting up, include long explanations and settings in a huge multi-page text file, that literally can take a day to set-up from scratch, even if you know the settings basically from last time. If the explanations were separated from the options list, making each easy to find, ordered the same each update (with any new settings tacked onto the end), you could create a basic way of just inputting an old settings file list, read that in, and then the autoexec batch file (or something like it), could prompt you for the remaining new settings. You'd read a help file as you set up the settings, and your old settings file would always be compatible. As long as someone updates the autoexec batch reader file.

(The above is mod maker friendly, not basic user settings set-up friendly. It is powerful, but without some easy way to use all that as a basic user, it's not user-friendly)

-----

I'm not a programmer, although I use to do some programming in my school years. The idea of some launcher as almost a batch file, makes a lot of sense however.

A few notes though beforehand. I don't really believe that USUALLY you need to go back to the JA2 GOLD v1.12 clean install. That's almost always a bunch of unnecessary hooey. The files that change the most are files that are always used in the previous versions (so they will be replaced by new version), or new files that will just be added and not overwrite. So as long as the placement is correct in the correct directory, most of that isn't an issue.

HOWEVER, the settings, the xml files, the ini files, those are a hassle in some ways. Because they overwrite you back to the new default set-up, and do not retain your customizations.

I'll give an example. I have a few changes to my M.E.R.C. mercs, so I have to remember not to overwrite that file (which I forget the exact name for now -- part of the problem as the orig poster put so well). I have to MERGE MY CHANGES TO ANY UPDATES instead. That's basically appending text files, or going thru the whole thing manually and keeping my changes plus updating any NOTICED new changes from the new SCI directories.

Same thing goes for the INI files. Most of them change not at all or very little. But, the modders keep changing which file has which option -- that can totally nuke your simple update. You have to choose all your options again.

Flugente meant well when he moved to a non-graphical at start interface -- BUT he totally went the other way from having a nice easy to implement launcher at start. ARGUABLY -- IF you could choose all the options in all the files at start inside the JA2 v1.13 game, it would be A WHOLE LOT EASIER FOR ANY FAN. That, in effect, is the orig posters concept of a launcher.

The best I can suggest in the interim. Would be having all the options repeated in one place, in one file, and the player just picks yes or no. Each option gets a number next to it. You could then just pick all the numbers of all you want as yes, and not those for no, and then enter a value. This creates your autoexec bat of the game, basically. The player could open another help file explaining everything, just as the JA2options.ini does currently, and read that for explanation as he enters values. He then saves the values and boom, he's set.

A list of those numbers could be saved to disk. Then every time you update, you just feed in the old numbers, read them into the new versions autoexec bat, and boom it is set-up.

Now, here's the laughable part. If the JA2v113 Editor was working as it should, and pumping out all the files correctly, that would be basically your launcher. But it isn't kept up to date. It could be and expanded upon, but as the original poster mentions, that might be something only done for money.

What I'm saying is that maybe you can't do it for mods, but you could do it for v1.13 easily enough conceptually. But the move over the years to breaking the files up into various files, although great for modding to create stuff, actually makes it harder for a person to just set up options and go, because it requires more intimate knowledge of the history of changes in the game to find the right files, remember what you did before and all that.

TO ORIGINAL POSTER:

I've gone to keeping my old files unless I have to change something key. I also keep an increasingly more detailed Notepad file on what I do to each file and why, so that I can rebuild quicker my set-up. All I can say is if you log most of your customizations in a text file, it sure makes it easier to recreate.

Right now, the game just reads all the distributed files on a new campaign, and creates the game. That certainly could be automated, by adding flags in the files, whatever, with a simple procedure. But as it stands, the confusion for the basic fan player who hasn't kept up with the distributed files and settings, well he's going to have a hard time. You would need a commitment to a certain overarching file that simply lists all options in a standardized order, and a help file for that. Then each time you play even with a new version, that file sets it up. That's basically what any launcher does anyway, just in a more complicated manner.

[Updated on: Thu, 17 January 2019 03:27]

Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356446 is a reply to message #356438] Thu, 17 January 2019 08:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jpanic

 
Messages:5
Registered:November 2015
Thanks Shanga - any agreement would be private. My comments were only in response to the suggestion (as I read it) that it's not a credible offer in the absence of more details.
Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356449 is a reply to message #356438] Thu, 17 January 2019 12:13 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jahh

 
Messages:56
Registered:March 2017
Quote:
Launcher/Updater (paid job)

Quote:
interested in, as a properly paid-for casual job, doing this as a project

Quote:
If so, please feel free to contact me either privately or how you prefer.


Shanga wrote on Thu, 17 January 2019 02:02

And I do think encourage contract negotiations to be actually held outside Bear's Pit forums (or at least in private messages). It's better that way for a multitude of reasons.

Quote:
I think first a general discussion on what's actually possible is needed and this is what's happening.


Shanga, so if it actually important to you for a multitude of reasons, maybe it should be edited to remove a direct mentions of payment proposal at all (as it doesnt seems to happens anyway, as he evade a direct question already), and keep some vague innuendoes about possibility of it instead? Will help both with a "multitude of reasons" and will keep it in desired way of "general discussion on what's actually possible is needed" (with topic name currently being misleading about) instead of discussion about "what is your proposed budget for a stated task so we {ones who will be actually involved in} can discuss your project further" (with topic name currently is actually about it).


jpanic wrote on Thu, 17 January 2019 01:13
Janh,
My post was to open communications and not set out the terms of an offer capable of acceptance. I'm not proposing anyone start work for an "undisclosed fee" as my expectation is that all details would be agreed before work started. I am not asking for people to accept the arrangement would be credible simply because I say so on the internet, I would be happy to arrange a contract and funds in escrow once it was agreed.


That's right, you opened a communication without offering a clear offer (nothing essentially bad on its own yet), then after i tried to communicate you into naming that offer (as it simply needed to see if there is any reason to continue communication or not), you went into various ways of open communications about stuff instead of actual communication of naming it (and this is looking as if you already evading a first direct question about project asked, so not really good at all).

You not proposed to "start work for an "undisclosed fee" (very bad!)" ill clarify if it could been read this way from my message. You propose to come to you to discuss a possible start of such work with you (not really bad, but just silly enough, without a chance anyone decent will do so).

"You would be happy to arrange a contract and funds in escrow once it was agreed" (and its obviously implied as default), but you make impossible to agree it; as you keep your terms closed, and from your way of evading an answers, it really start to looks like you plan to reveal a budget after agreement (both a nonsense on its own and contradict your own "I'm not proposing anyone start work for an "undisclosed fee""), or you would made it public already (if not on your own way, but at least when i asked about).

So id suggest to make a clear full proposal first.

Ill make example - suppose i want to issue a task of washing my car (paid job) here. Without a naming a budget is really useless for all, if only due readers live various places etc. But it all come into budget, if budget (for my own weird reasons) is some fucknillion of $, maybe it would be of interest even in case of need to travel between continents (as work is easy and payment is high). But it will be a real waste of everyone time if it will turn to numerous PM conversations between me and potential "developers" about "yes, i really mean its couple of $, and yes, it means you have to go my place for it, if you dont like it - fine, no deal for us, thanks for your wasted time, mate".

Deal is any decent developer already will drop you (me, in an example above) after max one try to clarify a vague offer. As im sorta casual developer, i did 2 tries.

[Updated on: Thu, 17 January 2019 20:36]

Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356473 is a reply to message #356449] Fri, 18 January 2019 17:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shanga

 
Messages:3528
Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia

As important as it is to know a budget beforehand it is to know what the actual job is about. If the budget is $500 and you need to write a code that says "Hello world" it's a lot. If for that budget you need to program an AI, it's non-existent. That's why I think defining what the task is about comes before money.

I offered the space of this forum for discussions on the technical part of the project. That's all. The rest of this discussion/negotiation should happen in private or won't happen at all.


Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356477 is a reply to message #356473] Fri, 18 January 2019 19:09 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jahh

 
Messages:56
Registered:March 2017
Quote:
I offered the space of this forum for discussions on the technical part of the project.

In that case is very misleading now. The task is stated in first post, so we know already what the actual job is about. The offer of money to be paid for fulfilling the stated task is stated in first post. No proposal "let just talk about how it would be maybe possibly to have such a thing" is stated in first post (so i wonder why you see it this way for a start), and its fully reasonable: the technical part of project is to be discussed between side A, who pay for work and side B, who do a work. Various priceless ideas of somebody C about it is of no actual matter here, as C neither pay for work, nor doing it.
Quote:
The rest of this discussion/negotiation should happen in private or won't happen at all.

Thats sorta im about, in case you noticed the actual idea behind original post now, and you dont like it - edit it into some innocent "blah-blah about fantasy stuff" topic instead of "there is a very certain described task to do as a paid work" topic (as it doesnt seem credible anyway, so no loss).
Re: Launcher/Updater (paid job)[message #356516 is a reply to message #356477] Mon, 21 January 2019 00:40 Go to previous message
jpanic

 
Messages:5
Registered:November 2015
Dear all - I'm disregarding Jahh's posts, save to make clear that the only reason a budget is not quoted is that I am concerned - as I said - that if I put effectively an ad up on a website for "do this for $X" I will be spammed. Any programmer would know the difference between quoting for washing a car and a programming project (where the tasker is not a programmer). If anyone is interested please private message me.
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