Author Topic: Some suggestions from a newcomer  (Read 3663 times)

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Offline emtilt

  • 22
Some suggestions from a newcomer
I've always been a fan of B5, so, when I recently discovered this game, I was excited and installed it. Now, I don't know how much active development it still receives, but I thought I'd throw my 2 cents out there in case anyone wants to improve some things.

The games itself is pretty neat. Unfortunately, I think you guys have set up a huge barrier to growing the player community. Your average computer user wants to just download, install an play a game. Anything more is too much. When I went to install this game, it took me about an hour to get everything working. The available installer is almost completely unuseable on its own. Aside from obviously needing single player campaigns, to play multiplayer, a whole host of things has to be done. First you need Zathras, which is barely described at all on the main website. But then that won't work with the inferno executeables include with the game download, and an obscure forum post has to be found to point the user in the right direction for those. Additionally, I needed a missing scptrackir.dll as well as to install OpenAL - neither included with the main installer nor described on the main site. Then you need multiplayer maps. Then you have to figure out which exe you're actually supposed to use. Then you get a bunch of errors which, it turns out, don't actually matter. The information about how to do all this is out there, but it's scattered in obscure forum posts and takes a long time to get together.

If you guys want new users to not immediately give up, fixing this should be a priority. I'm a very adept computer user and it still took me a while - what about your average user? They aren't going to stick around. A good user base is what keeps projects like this alive - be friendly to potential users!

I know I have little right to complain, but I am hoping my comments help the community keep this great project alive. It's easy to not notice problems like this when you've been using the software for years; the new user, however, immediately notices them. Anyway, these are just a few thoughts on the matter - take them or leave them. I'll enjoy the game either way!

 

Offline wesp5

  • 29
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
I'll second all of the above! I got TBP working fine but it really is some work. As the original release mustn't be altered, I'd suggest you put all necessary files into Zathras, including the latest stable launcher and inforno build that this version of Zathras is compatible with.

 

Offline Vidmaster

  • Moderator
  • 211
  • Inventor of FS2 bullettime ;-)
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
The games itself is pretty neat. Unfortunately, I think you guys have set up a huge barrier to growing the player community. Your average computer user wants to just download, install an play a game.

We know. I want to release a new Installer and DVD for years now but we are always waiting on something (damn feature creep).
A new fs2_open release, my voice acted Fortune Hunters campaigns, Zathras testing, ...
Devoted member of the Official Karajorma Fan Club (Founded and Led by Mobius).

Does crazy Software Engineering for a living, until he finally musters the courage to start building games for real. Might never happen.

 

Offline emtilt

  • 22
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
How come the DVD and the installer pointed to on the main website are different? It seems like standardizing the install process could help. If the installer on the main website included Zathras, the most current fs2 builds, and all of the required DLLs, that would be a huge step toward making the game more user friendly. Even if all of those aren't included, adding a feature to the installer that checked for them and notified the user, possibly even offering to download them automatically, would also fix the problem.

 

Offline wesp5

  • 29
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
I agree. But I still would suggest that if a complete DVD release is pushed up further and further, you should include all the necessary updates to launcher and engines into new releases of Zathras, which are more frequent.

 

Offline FUBAR-BDHR

  • Self-Propelled Trouble Magnet
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  • 212
  • Master Drunk
    • 165th Beer Drinking Hell Raisers
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
We can't include the exes in Zathars anymore.  There are too many options.  You have standard, SSE, SSE2 and the different platform ones. 
No-one ever listens to Zathras. Quite mad, they say. It is good that Zathras does not mind. He's even grown to like it. Oh yes. -Zathras

 

Offline wesp5

  • 29
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
There are too many options.  You have standard, SSE, SSE2 and the different platform ones.

Then you either need to provide a seperate exe archive on the main page below Zathras or you could always include the most common working one and then point to the others in the readme. Who e.g. needs SSE and SSE2 versions nowadays?

 
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
SSE/SSE2 are instruction sets, should you have the capability of using them (basically a CPU after what... 2001?) you should use them.
Using standard only if you can't handle SSE/SSE2.
"Neutrality means that you don't really care, cuz the struggle goes on even when you're not there: Blind and unaware."

"We still believe in all the things that we stood by before,
and after everything we've seen here maybe even more.
I know we're not the only ones, and we were not the first,
and unapologetically we'll stand behind each word."

 

Offline Jeff Vader

  • The Back of the Hero!
  • 212
  • Bwahaha
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
[justthinkingaloudhere]
You could simply bundle the SSE2 build(s) and declare system requirements that necessitate the use of at least a P4 level CPU. Then perchance mention in some troubleshooting section that people, who insist on using really old hardware and still want to play TBP, can download non-SSE builds from some location.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of FSO and the unfortunate TBP-related incident some time ago, creating a simple one-click installer for everything isn't quite possible. TBP itself is off-limits in terms of modifying, so only the 3.4 Final version can be distributed. Then the FSO engine is being developed all the time, and in terms of multiplayer, that requires TPB multi players to also keep their builds up to date.

Technically I suppose you could do things so that TBP itself is distributed as is, and when Zathras things reach an approved point, release them, with the latest recommended SSE2 INF build, in a single installer/DVD, that can sniff around the target computer and install itself on TBP without much hassle. That way at least the singleplayer aspect could be simplified. To a point. Multiplayer would probably still remain as a different dilemma.


[/justthinkingaloudhere]
23:40 < achillion > EveningTea: ass
23:40 < achillion > wait no
23:40 < achillion > evilbagel: ass
23:40 < EveningTea > ?
23:40 < achillion > 2-letter tab complete failure

14:08 < achillion > there's too much talk of butts and dongs in here
14:08 < achillion > the level of discourse has really plummeted
14:08 < achillion > Let's talk about politics instead
14:08 <@The_E > butts and dongs are part of #hard-light's brand now
14:08 <@The_E > well
14:08 <@The_E > EvilBagel's brand, at least

01:06 < T-Rog > welp
01:07 < T-Rog > I've got to take some very strong antibiotics
01:07 < achillion > penis infection?
01:08 < T-Rog > Chlamydia
01:08 < achillion > O.o
01:09 < achillion > well
01:09 < achillion > I guess that happens
01:09 < T-Rog > at least it's curable
01:09 < achillion > yeah
01:10 < T-Rog > I take it you weren't actually expecting it to be a penis infection
01:10 < achillion > I was not

14:04 < achillion > Sometimes the way to simplify is to just have a habit and not think about it too much
14:05 < achillion > until stuff explodes
14:05 < achillion > then you start thinking about it

22:16 < T-Rog > I don't know how my gf would feel about Jewish conspiracy porn

15:41 <-INFO > EveningTea [[email protected]] has joined #hard-light
15:47 < EvilBagel> butt
15:51 < Achillion> yes
15:53 <-INFO > EveningTea [[email protected]] has quit [Quit: http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client]

18:53 < Achillion> Dicks are fun

21:41 < MatthTheGeek> you can't spell assassin without two asses

20:05 < sigtau> i'm mining titcoins from now on

00:31 < oldlaptop> Drunken antisocial educated freezing hicks with good Internet == Finland stereotype

11:46 <-INFO > Kobrar [[email protected]] has joined #hard-light
11:50 < achtung> Surely you've heard of DVDA
11:50 < achtung> Double Vaginal Double ANal
11:51 < Kobrar> ...
11:51 <-INFO > Kobrar [[email protected]] has left #hard-light []

 

Offline emtilt

  • 22
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
Any and/or all of those changes would be a huge improvement over the current system.

Installer scripts are easy to update. Even if TBP has to be released in it's current form, a simple wrapper installer could solve the problem and could be kept up to date. Such an installer could:

-Include the most current TBP installer, Zathras, FS exes (bundle them all, the installer can get system info and use a lookup table once it knows the user's CPU - if that fails, default to SSE2 with a warning), and relevant dlls
-Begin by checking for an existing TBP install;
----If found, skip to next step
----If not found, call the TBP installer and install, followed by adding any needed dlls or drivers
-Update/install Zathras & and FS exes
-Option to add campaigns and such

Such a script would be a one-time investment in development time, and then would be easy to keep updated.

 

Offline Vidmaster

  • Moderator
  • 211
  • Inventor of FS2 bullettime ;-)
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
Technically I suppose you could do things so that TBP itself is distributed as is, and when Zathras things reach an approved point, release them, with the latest recommended SSE2 INF build, in a single installer/DVD, that can sniff around the target computer and install itself on TBP without much hassle.

that actually *was* the plan and if I am not mistaken, the DVD automatically installs Zathras and sets the necessary mod flags.
Does it not?
Devoted member of the Official Karajorma Fan Club (Founded and Led by Mobius).

Does crazy Software Engineering for a living, until he finally musters the courage to start building games for real. Might never happen.

 

Offline Col. Fishguts

  • voodoo doll
  • 211
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
Unfortunately, due to the nature of FSO and the unfortunate TBP-related incident some time ago, creating a simple one-click installer for everything isn't quite possible. TBP itself is off-limits in terms of modifying, so only the 3.4 Final version can be distributed.

I still think that IPA's argument of "whatever I worked on in TBP cannot be altered anymore, 3.4b is final." doesn't hold any water IMHO. Almost all TBP assets were worked on by several people over time... no single member get's the privilege to decide what can and cannot be modified anymore.

Personally, I would be in favor of making a 3.6.12 compatible base package with an easy installer (basically TBP 4.0). But that's just my $0.02, I know FUBAR and Vidmaster don't share my POV.
"I don't think that people accept the fact that life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable. It seems like religion and myth were invented against that, trying to make sense out of it." - D. Lynch

Visit The Babylon Project, now also with HTL flavour  ¦ GTB Rhea

 

Offline Jeff Vader

  • The Back of the Hero!
  • 212
  • Bwahaha
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
Technically I suppose you could do things so that TBP itself is distributed as is, and when Zathras things reach an approved point, release them, with the latest recommended SSE2 INF build, in a single installer/DVD, that can sniff around the target computer and install itself on TBP without much hassle.

that actually *was* the plan and if I am not mistaken, the DVD automatically installs Zathras and sets the necessary mod flags.
Does it not?
I... don't know. If that's the case, awesome.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of FSO and the unfortunate TBP-related incident some time ago, creating a simple one-click installer for everything isn't quite possible. TBP itself is off-limits in terms of modifying, so only the 3.4 Final version can be distributed.

I still think that IPA's argument of "whatever I worked on in TBP cannot be altered anymore, 3.4b is final." doesn't hold any water IMHO. Almost all TBP assets were worked on by several people over time... no single member get's the privilege to decide what can and cannot be modified anymore.
I agree with you. IPAndrews dabbled with many things, but did not single-handedly pull TBP out of his arse. And with the highly moddable nature of any FSO game, preventing people from modifying TBP isn't something that could actually be achieved. IPA can say "don't touch it" and even yell at people, but he can't really prevent people who decide to modify or redo any or all TBP assets. Especially since he or no one here can pull any legal stunts to ensure that TBP is not modified. But I'm talking as a non-teammember here, so yeah. It's really up to the current TBP team.
23:40 < achillion > EveningTea: ass
23:40 < achillion > wait no
23:40 < achillion > evilbagel: ass
23:40 < EveningTea > ?
23:40 < achillion > 2-letter tab complete failure

14:08 < achillion > there's too much talk of butts and dongs in here
14:08 < achillion > the level of discourse has really plummeted
14:08 < achillion > Let's talk about politics instead
14:08 <@The_E > butts and dongs are part of #hard-light's brand now
14:08 <@The_E > well
14:08 <@The_E > EvilBagel's brand, at least

01:06 < T-Rog > welp
01:07 < T-Rog > I've got to take some very strong antibiotics
01:07 < achillion > penis infection?
01:08 < T-Rog > Chlamydia
01:08 < achillion > O.o
01:09 < achillion > well
01:09 < achillion > I guess that happens
01:09 < T-Rog > at least it's curable
01:09 < achillion > yeah
01:10 < T-Rog > I take it you weren't actually expecting it to be a penis infection
01:10 < achillion > I was not

14:04 < achillion > Sometimes the way to simplify is to just have a habit and not think about it too much
14:05 < achillion > until stuff explodes
14:05 < achillion > then you start thinking about it

22:16 < T-Rog > I don't know how my gf would feel about Jewish conspiracy porn

15:41 <-INFO > EveningTea [[email protected]] has joined #hard-light
15:47 < EvilBagel> butt
15:51 < Achillion> yes
15:53 <-INFO > EveningTea [[email protected]] has quit [Quit: http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client]

18:53 < Achillion> Dicks are fun

21:41 < MatthTheGeek> you can't spell assassin without two asses

20:05 < sigtau> i'm mining titcoins from now on

00:31 < oldlaptop> Drunken antisocial educated freezing hicks with good Internet == Finland stereotype

11:46 <-INFO > Kobrar [[email protected]] has joined #hard-light
11:50 < achtung> Surely you've heard of DVDA
11:50 < achtung> Double Vaginal Double ANal
11:51 < Kobrar> ...
11:51 <-INFO > Kobrar [[email protected]] has left #hard-light []

 

Offline wesp5

  • 29
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
I agree with the above, although I wasn't around at the time as well. Still if this bothers you, TBP 4.0 could indeed just be a wrapper as described by emtilt above that first installs the TBP 3.4b files unchanged, then the latest Zathras and the executables on top, but invisible to the user who from the outside only sees TBP 4.0 being installed. Thus you won't break any given promise but you could still offer a streamlined product for new users! I don't know what installer you used before, but I found the free InnoSetup extremely easy to use. You can find it here: http://www.jrsoftware.org/isinfo.php

 

Offline emtilt

  • 22
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
Most install systems should beable to accomplish those tasks easily. In addition to the one mentioned by wesp5, the NSIS installers are also easy to use but also powerful. It's at http://nsis.sourceforge.net and it does indeed allow the installer to check for SSE and SSE2 support via this plugin: http://nsis.sourceforge.net/CPUDesc_plug-in

 

Offline Slasher

  • 29
Re: Some suggestions from a newcomer
I'm really late to the discussion but it anything that consolidates and simplifies a TBP installation would be awesome.  I was so enthusiastic for such an idea a few weeks ago I wanted a DVD 3.0....even though we don't have a DVD 2.0 yet...  :nervous: