Author Topic: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)  (Read 15885 times)

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Offline kkmic

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Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Although  this project was started by Hellzed via a thread on this forum, since he is not answering to his PMs, Iss Mneur and I decided to continue this project on our own. Hellzed, if you're reading this, please contact one of us.

So far, we have only several mock-ups on how the launcher will look like, and a ton of ideas on how will it work.

Key additions to the current launcher design:
- Internationalization
- Profiles
- Greater control over a particular the mod by it's author (via the mod.ini file)
- Integrated install/update solution


Internationalization
The launcher will be available in multiple languages.

Profiles
- A profile basically contains the status of all the options available to the user (exe, mod, video, advanced options, etc). So, if you bothered saving one profile for a certain configuration, you can just select that profile from the list and voila, everything is set to what the particular mod you want to play needs.
When you create a new profile, the launcher should ask for it's (unique) name and the option to "clone" one of the existing profiles. That way, if you have a profile for, let's say Derelict, and want to create a new profile for Blue Planet, you can base the new profile on the existing Derelict profile and modify just the selected mod and one or two options if needed, save the profile and have a BP profile with just a few clicks.  
- The launcher should ask you to save a profile if you made changes to it, when exiting and switching profiles (just as your ordinary text editor: "Do you want to save the changes to <profilename> before exiting?" Yes, No, Cancel).
- There should be one profile named "default" that is used to save the settings when using the launcher for just one mod/TC to avoid forcing you to name a profile on startup, when none is found in the configuration file. The "Always save default" check-box (intended to be named "Always save default profile" but  left to "Always save default" due to not enough space on the mock-up) forces the launcher to save the default profile when exiting or switching profiles without asking - kinda replicating how the current launcher is working ATM.

Control over your own mod
Via the mod.ini, a mod author can skin the launcher window to some extent, force flags to be always on and disallow certain flags from being used. Also, a mod author can mark some flags as being recommended (but not mandatory). These  flags will be marked by the launcher on the advanced settings page. The exact details are still being worked on

Install/Update integrated
With the help of a central content server, the launcher can keep track of news, new releases and available updates to your existing files. Updating will translate to downloading only the changed files, or a patch, if available. As for how all these things will happen, we're still working on it

Now, without further ado, these are the mock-ups so far:

Welcome page


Mod selection page


Basic settings page

The basic settings  page concatenates all the configuration tabs except the "features" one from the current launcher. It also adds the option for proxy servers.
*I KNOW*  the binary selection mechanism is missing from this page, but it will be there on the actual launcher. :p

Advanced settings page


Install/update page

Under construction :)


Other things of interest that the launcher will contain:
- Option to remove a mod via  right-clicking
- An on-screen indicator when updates are available
- A status bar (below the main window) for messages of minor importance to the user
- Ability to download updates in the background and keep playing the game at the same time
- The proverbial "more"


Anyone else interested in joining the project? We could use a graphic artist to create some images for the launcher.

And in case you missed the essence of this post.... we're looking for feedback from you. (what's good,  what sucks, better ideas, etc)
« Last Edit: October 19, 2009, 03:12:42 pm by kkmic »
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Offline The E

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Me likes  :nod: :yes:
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Offline Colonol Dekker

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Are these the same as the ones Karajorma posted?
I mean, are you guys collaborating even though he's not mentioned :confused:


On-topic, how long til this is in the testing stage?  :nod:

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Offline kkmic

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Are these the same as the ones Karajorma posted?
I mean, are you guys collaborating even though he's not mentioned :confused:

No, this is a separate project.

We're  still not 100% done with the planning stage :), so there will be a while until the testing stage.
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... moments will be lost in time... like... tears... in rain. (pause) Time... to die.

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Offline Mongoose

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
These images are really great, but I do think you guys should get in touch with karajorma before you go any further, because they look very similar to the concepts he discussed in the recent SCP meeting; he posted some mock-up images and went into further detail in this thread.  We already have a few disparate Launcher efforts in the works, and now that the SCP team is talking seriously about implementing an all-encompassing cross-platform overhaul, I'd hate to see effort wasted on redundant projects.  I'm sure they'd really appreciate your input and expertise. :)

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
I posted my thread not as a serious contender for what the launcher should look like, but in order to encourage discussion and ideas on what a global launcher would be like.

So this is merely more of the same. Once we've had a few people post mock-ups we can decide on which ideas are best. kkmic, you don't seem to mention whether this would be a global launcher for all projects or if it would require each TC to have their own launcher (or maybe it's just too early in the morning for me). Personally I'm in favour of the former.
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Offline Stormkeeper

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
In favor of the former too. But looks promising.
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Online Goober5000

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
We already have a few disparate Launcher efforts in the works, and now that the SCP team is talking seriously about implementing an all-encompassing cross-platform overhaul, I'd hate to see effort wasted on redundant projects.

Well, to be fair, all new proposals, including karajorma's, are already redundant to the three or four launchers that are currently working and available. :p

 

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Wasn't the whole idea to come up with one cross platform standalone launcher/updater/installer to do away with all the redundant work going on?  Everyone putting effort into one launcher would seem to be the logical course.  Not only does it prevent waste of time on duplicate efforts but reduces support load when you only have one program everyone is familiar with. 

Maybe a Launcher sub forum is in order so everyone can get there ideas together and into one project. 
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
We already have a few disparate Launcher efforts in the works, and now that the SCP team is talking seriously about implementing an all-encompassing cross-platform overhaul, I'd hate to see effort wasted on redundant projects.

Well, to be fair, all new proposals, including karajorma's, are already redundant to the three or four launchers that are currently working and available. :p
I know, but that situation is what you're trying to rectify, if I'm reading things right. :p

Everything else aside, I do really like the layout of this, particularly the profiles implementation.  It's clear, it's compact, and it's sensibly constructed.

 

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
In the above mock-ups, the only thing I could recommend would be the Advanced Settings area. To the right of the flags, rather than advising people to double click on an option to view the wiki, why not just detail the information from the wiki in there?

Seems like there is more than enough room for it.
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Offline Stormkeeper

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Yeah, now that you mention it. And having to connect to the internet to fully utilize the launcher doesn't make sense. Putting a brief description of the info would probably suffice.
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Offline Zacam

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Well, an internet connect for the install/update is nifty. And having the Hard Light headline announcements in there? Way freaking awesome sauce.

As long as net access is not a required function for it to operate (meaning that it won't swallow its own tongue if it doesn't have any) I think it provides a fairly nice capability.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Control over your own mod
Via the mod.ini, a mod author can skin the launcher window to some extent, force flags to be always on and disallow certain flags from being used. Also, a mod author can mark some flags as being recommended (but not mandatory). These  flags will be marked by the launcher on the advanced settings page. The exact details are still being worked on.

To be honest, I am not actually sure we need this. In my mock up using settings from the mod.ini was merely a quick way of setting up the launcher based on the settings the game could use (i.e a new SCP user wouldn't need to know that Diaspora requires a powerful PC while JAD doesn't. They'd simply pick a set based on the power of their PC).

 If you find you're having to force the use of flags in order to get the correct behaviour for your mod then that means you're doing things wrong/need to get the SCP to make that flag a table setting.
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Offline Bobboau

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
how would you handle installing a mod manually?
how are mods to be packaged?
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Offline Spicious

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Supporting disparate options in mod.inis seems like a terrible idea to me, at least when developers have some expectation of these options applying to all players.

In the above mock-ups, the only thing I could recommend would be the Advanced Settings area. To the right of the flags, rather than advising people to double click on an option to view the wiki, why not just detail the information from the wiki in there?

Seems like there is more than enough room for it.
I'd put the basic info in a tooltip and use the right pane for extended info that would be in the wiki.

- Ability to download updates in the background and keep playing the game at the same time
Updates to what?

how would you handle installing a mod manually?
how are mods to be packaged?
Those are how questions. This just seems to be about what it looks like and what it does.

 

Offline Iss Mneur

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Control over your own mod
Via the mod.ini, a mod author can skin the launcher window to some extent, force flags to be always on and disallow certain flags from being used. Also, a mod author can mark some flags as being recommended (but not mandatory). These  flags will be marked by the launcher on the advanced settings page. The exact details are still being worked on.

To be honest, I am not actually sure we need this. In my mock up using settings from the mod.ini was merely a quick way of setting up the launcher based on the settings the game could use. If you find you're having to force the use of flags in order to get the correct behaviour for your mod then that means you're doing things wrong/need to get the SCP to make that flag a table setting.
You're right, if you need to force a flag then you are probably doing something wrong.  That being said, our main intention with forcing flags on is for TBP and WCS total conversions and their flags '-tbp', and '-wcsaga', respectively. Same idea for forcing flags off, not that I can think of anything off of the top of my head that would need it.

Well, an internet connect for the install/update is nifty. And having the Hard Light headline announcements in there? Way freaking awesome sauce.

As long as net access is not a required function for it to operate (meaning that it won't swallow its own tongue if it doesn't have any) I think it provides a fairly nice capability.

Yes net access is not required. We have not decided on how to handle the net at launcher start up, but my idea is to have the launcher load anything that is needs to display that it gets updated would be loaded from its local cache, this way the launcher's start up is not delayed.  After the launcher start up is complete the launcher would then start checking online resources for updates in the background. That is, do not try the Internet until after the launcher is running.  As noted in kkmic's post we have not decided exactly how the mod installer/updater is going to work, but we did decide that it was going to be a subtle system. Notification of an update would likely be a button to the left of the play button that only appears when unchecked updates are available.

As for the wiki, that could probably be bundled into the help system updates, as the updater would not just update the engine and mods/TCs but the launcher itself and the launchers content (namely the help).

As for the help system, kkmic has stated that "help should not be more than a click away."  Which I think is nice, but we need some ideas as for what we are going to do for the help that is "a click away."  The tool tips is a good idea, but what can't fit on a tool tip that should be included in the launcher.

I posted my thread not as a serious contender for what the launcher should look like, but in order to encourage discussion and ideas on what a global launcher would be like.

So this is merely more of the same. Once we've had a few people post mock-ups we can decide on which ideas are best. kkmic, you don't seem to mention whether this would be a global launcher for all projects or if it would require each TC to have their own launcher (or maybe it's just too early in the morning for me). Personally I'm in favour of the former.

Yes, it is supposed to be "The Freespace Launcher" to rule them all, so it does do TCs, even though that is not made really clear.  Basically, replace in your mind every time kkmic writes "mod" with "mod/TC/campaign/mission/imagepack/whathaveyouthirdpartything" (yes, I am looking at you BP with that stupid star-field pack that I had a hard time letalone finding, and then even a harder time installing :mad:).  Also the plan is to have the launcher installed in it own folder separate from FS.

Supporting disparate options in mod.inis seems like a terrible idea to me, at least when developers have some expectation of these options applying to all players.
I am not really sure what you are getting at with this.

In the above mock-ups, the only thing I could recommend would be the Advanced Settings area. To the right of the flags, rather than advising people to double click on an option to view the wiki, why not just detail the information from the wiki in there?

Seems like there is more than enough room for it.
I'd put the basic info in a tooltip and use the right pane for extended info that would be in the wiki.
That's a great idea. This is why we opened this to comments!

- Ability to download updates in the background and keep playing the game at the same time
Updates to what?
To everything. The launcher, the launcher's data (help, namely), all installed mods/TCs/etc., the engine executables themselves (official releases, RCs, optionally even "knightly" build), possibly even Fred.  This is one thing we were not sure about, what else would be valuable to make sure it is up to date.

how would you handle installing a mod manually?
how are mods to be packaged?
Those are how questions. This just seems to be about what it looks like and what it does.
They may be how questions, but they are relevant considering that 20% of the interface is dedicated to installing and updating things.

At this point we are looking at having the launcher just scan the folder for the currently installed mods, and if it finds a valid .ini it will show it in the main mod list.  The data about the mods and the possible skinning they can do to the launcher are entirely to be stored in the mod's folder.

As for mod packaging, I don't think they will need anything different than what they are currently.  As for how the update system will operate, it will likely be a central repository for the necessary meta data and download information.  We plan on the launcher being able be just pointed at an existing fs2open install and pickup as if it had done all of the installing itself.  

At that, this is also why we are seeking suggestions as to what the update/install system, in particular, and the launcher in general will be.

« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 01:49:14 am by Iss Mneur »
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Offline kkmic

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
Alright, the first Q&A session. On a "First Come, First Served" basis  ;)

These images are really great, but I do think you guys should get in touch with karajorma before you go any further, because they look very similar to the concepts he discussed in the recent SCP meeting; he posted some mock-up images and went into further detail in this thread.  We already have a few disparate Launcher efforts in the works, and now that the SCP team is talking seriously about implementing an all-encompassing cross-platform overhaul, I'd hate to see effort wasted on redundant projects.  I'm sure they'd really appreciate your input and expertise. :)

I don't want to sound cocky, but this launcher was planned before the SCP meeting and before Krajorma posted his mock-ups (no, I am not flexing my muscles and no, I don't intend to transform this thread into a bloodbath between launchers). Some ideas are similar to what he posted there, some are not. The only thing that was lifted directly from Krajorma's thread was an idea based on this (everything else was designed independently):

What about blocking command line options unwanted by mod developers? Like tbp or 3d radar flags for WCS.
To be more precise, the ability to block some flags from the user in the launcher. Though, nothing stops you from editing the mod.ini and remove the block, or simply take the command line from the launcher, edit it and paste it into the first available console.

Anyway, I'm sure Krajorma, I and Iss Mneur we'll get along just fine. :yes:

kkmic, you don't seem to mention whether this would be a global launcher for all projects or if it would require each TC to have their own launcher (or maybe it's just too early in the morning for me). Personally I'm in favour of the former.
So am I. this launcher is intended to be able to control ALL your MODs and TCs. That's why the profiles were specifically created. So that you can switch between MODs/TCs (once the profiles are configured) with a few clicks.

But it is possible that we add an option into the configuration file of the launcher that will allow a TC (maybe even a MOD?) author to "lock" the launcher to his specific project. We'll think about this, if anyone REALLY needs it.

Well, to be fair, all new proposals, including karajorma's, are already redundant to the three or four launchers that are currently working and available. :p
There are indeed other launcher projects. How many of them are near completion and portable? And i doubt that any of them are even planned on a level comparable to what we proposed.

In the above mock-ups, the only thing I could recommend would be the Advanced Settings area. To the right of the flags, rather than advising people to double click on an option to view the wiki, why not just detail the information from the wiki in there?

Seems like there is more than enough room for it.
It seems that I failed to explain even to Iss Mneur how the advanced settings page will work (regarding extra info about the options) so here it is:
The launcher will have an internal text file from where he'll fetch the options description (available offline). If an option is clicked, that description is shown on the right, where the placeholder text is.
However, the wiki might contain more information than what is available in the internal description file (which, by the way, will be included in the list of files to be updated by the launcher) so that's why the ability to double-click the option is there. But the launcher will work just fine without internet access.

To be honest, I am not actually sure we need this. In my mock up using settings from the mod.ini was merely a quick way of setting up the launcher based on the settings the game could use (i.e a new SCP user wouldn't need to know that Diaspora requires a powerful PC while JAD doesn't. They'd simply pick a set based on the power of their PC).

If you find you're having to force the use of flags in order to get the correct behaviour for your mod then that means you're doing things wrong/need to get the SCP to make that flag a table setting.
The mod.ini will be backwards-compatible. You ll be able to use your existing mod.ini (your entire mod actually) with the launcher, if you don't feel like modifying it to make the launcher look pretty.
So if you're lazy, that won't be a problem.

We what that the launcher can be "modded" by the means of mod.ini file (so we can use it with every thing out there), so MOD/TC authors won't have to look under the hood or do a recompile for their specific MOD/TC.

At the moment, we have only one set of recommended options available to be named by the author via the mod.ini, but what stops us to make possible to have multiple (named) sets of recommended options, just like what you posted in your thread.

how would you handle installing a mod manually?
how are mods to be packaged?
Your question was answered in the answer to Karajorma above. You can do a bit of fiddling with the mod.ini if you want, otherwise you can just dump your mod as it is and the launcher will work fine. The only requirement is that you MUST have a mod.ini file. Even an empty one. I think this is a sensible requirement anyway....
« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 02:29:59 am by kkmic »
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... moments will be lost in time... like... tears... in rain. (pause) Time... to die.

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Offline Bobboau

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
fiddling with inis is hardly a usable solution for an end user, shouldn't there be a 'load mod' button or are you expecting the mod developers to make some sort of installer (which would defeat the purpose of an integrated installer)
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Offline kkmic

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Re: Iss Mneur and kkmic's cross-platform launcher/installer proposal (mock-ups)
The idea was that the developers can fiddle with the mod.ini to customize the launcher for their particular purpose if they want. Otherwise, the current mod.ini format and content will be more than enough. Sorry for the misinformation.

For the user, if he has an old mod on some dusty backup cd, he can use it with the launcher, provided that the mod has an mod.ini file in it's folder. Even an empty one will suffice, the launcher will fill in some default info in the mod section (a generic "freespace mod" image, a "no description available" text, etc).

We'll even provide a blank mod.ini file to be copied in the mod folder for the lazy user :p or for the less technical of us who have no clue on how to create a specific file.

Hope this answers your question.

LE:
I'm a bit short on time, but I'll try to make a mod.ini today to showcase what and how can be done.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 03:42:13 am by kkmic »
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... moments will be lost in time... like... tears... in rain. (pause) Time... to die.

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