Author Topic: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative  (Read 1129 times)

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"Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Okay. I'm...I'm going to try to be as nice as I can, here. I'm...all I'm trying to do is work with Mantle, which I already had all set up and working with the old launcher, so I can get an update out. It worked fine with the old launcher, but now all the new releases are going to be dependent on Knossos, I guess, so I'm trying to switch over to that.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how or why Knossos is doing any of the things it's doing, and the things I do know how to do don't appear to work. Furthermore, I can find absolutely no explanation of any of this whatsoever anywhere. I don't know how this thing is supposed to work.

So. I open it up and Mantle -- which is in my FS2 folder along with a billion other mods -- is nowhere to be found except as a tile in the "explore" category. Installing that would presumably just download the old version that I released last year, which I don't want to do because it would be pointless and I don't want to test because downloading things with Knossos doesn't work. The only mods that are installed are a couple that I think I installed last time I tried to use this thing, before I gave up and deleted some of the Knossos files so I could actually use a functioning launcher again.

Speaking of launchers, I don't know how to use this one. I can run one of the specific installed mods -- assuming it decides to work -- but that's about it.

Now there's also this other Freespace Open folder alongside my FS2 directory, which IIRC was also created during my first Knossos install. It has folders for the few mods Knossos registers as installed, which I think contain all of the necessary files for those mods. However, it doesn't contain any FS2 executables, FRED instances, or anything that looks like it might be a dedicated launcher. I have no clue as to the purpose of this second folder, beyond the misdirection of hapless modders. Well, okay. I have a vague notion as to what it does -- it's some sort of specialized mod folder for Knossos. I do not understand why it's necessary.

So at this point I don't even know where I should be looking. Most of the features of the launcher I'm used to seem to appear in the options menu, except there's no way to, y'know, actually launch it -- except by selecting a mod from the list. I think the way it works is that you can enter the flags in the command line, like before, and then you launch the game by picking a mod, and the flags are then applied. But that means you can set the flags to run, say, Vassago's Dirge, and then you select Transcend and hit play, and the game gives you Vassago's Dirge instead. But that's --

Wait, no, I just tested it. The mod you select overrides the flags. Okay. So I guess you have to pick retail, then? That makes...slightly more sense.

Anyway. So I tried moving Mantle and its dependents into the Freespace Open folder, hoping that Knossos would register them as installed. (This appears to have made Mantle vanish from the list of installable mods, which is weird as hell -- presumably some name-uniqueness thing? That or it was removed since I last saw it and I'm just not remembering correctly.) It didn't make Knossos register them, but it did let me run Mantle with the command-line flags. Unfortunately the game shat itself and closed as soon as I loaded a mission. Apparently it couldn't find any of my custom assets, despite they and their tables all being right there in the folder that I moved.

(Something similar happened when I tried to run FRED from my FS2 folder -- opening a mission from Mantle resulted in a bunch of errors and half the ships getting turned into Ulysses because somehow it couldn't find my models.)

So I moved Mantle's folder and its dependents back, saw that other thread on using the "development" tab to create a mod for this purpose, and tried that. I managed to make a mod pointing to Mantle's ini. It yelled at me when I tried to put bpcomplete and mediavps_2014 as dependents. I was hoping that wouldn't amount to anything; I was incorrect.

(I didn't realize until just now that I had to put in the FSO settings for the new mod independently, so it wouldn't launch at all at first. But I figured that out, so.)

But that doesn't help anyway because once I put in the settings and launched it, it just gave me retail FS2. Presumably it can't find bpcomplete or the mediavps. Aaaand that's where I am now, having finally gotten sufficiently annoyed about this to go on the internet and rant about it.

------------------------------

So. Here's what I think is happening:

When Knossos installs a mod, it installs it into the new Freespace Open folder. This installation contains unique architecture which can't be replicated by simply moving a preexisting folder from the old system into the new directory. Therefore the way to link an old mod to Knossos -- other than building said architecture from scratch, which I have no idea how to do -- is to use the "development" tab to create a shell mod, containing the necessary architecture, which points to the old one.

But, presumably, Knossos doesn't know what to do with further dependencies if they rely on mods it doesn't recognize. So if I wanted to run Mantle, I would need to create a Knossos mod pointing to mediavps_2014, then create a Knossos mod pointing to bpcomplete and dependent upon mediavps_2014, and then do what I did before -- create a Knossos mod pointing to Mantle and dependent upon both of them.

This...just... It makes me think this is a system specifically designed to generate cruft, and I have no idea why. I can only guess that the intent is to create a cleaner mod installation system, but in this case, at least, it's done the opposite.

Of course, rather than creating a new Knossos mod for BP, I could try to install it via Knossos. But I'm not eager to try downloading something with Knossos again, because:

The new MediaVPs won't download. They got stuck at 95% after like three hours*, and then when I tried to cancel (because it doesn't let you close the program while there are processes running) it stopped responding. Gah. At least it doesn't keep running in the background after I close the window; those are the worst.

*I have a fairly bad internet connection at the moment, so that might just be how long it takes. Still, I'm not sure.

-----------------------------------------------------------

So...I'm genuinely not sure what I'm supposed to be doing here. Is there a big link to a guide somewhere in one of the release threads, and I'm just an idiot and I missed it? Am I just an idiot in general?

Like -- I don't think this would be as bad if I were just trying to play. Then I could just mess with **** until it worked, and it'd be fine. But, in my case -- I need some idea of what's going on under the hood, because I have to make sure my mod isn't broken. And...this whole new system is making that process a giant pain in the ass.

Anyway. I hope this wasn't too unreadably disorganized, or too vitriolic. I'm a lot less angry now than I was when I started this post, so that's good.

Hopefully someday I'll figure out how to use this thing without it making me want to break something.

 

Offline Admiral Nelson

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Let me try and explain a bit here -- I would suggest you join the HLP discord, where there are many people waiting to help you with these things....  Knossos is meant to be a fresh ecosystem so that interdependencies amongst all the various mods floating around can be managed systemically.  You therefore want to separate it from your old legacy installs -- it is more than a launcher substitute, for instance, as it doesn't use mod.inis.

The way to port your legacy mod to Knossos is to first go into the development tab and create a new mod.  That new mod will have both packages and dependencies. Here is an example taken from the upcoming Sol A History rerelease:


You can see from the bunch of tabs there that S:AH has multiple packages (becuase it is a big mod with large files).  You may only need one package if you aren't redistributing tons of big files. A package is just a folder structure - here is the Core package structure for S:AH:


So to make a Knossos Mantle you would create the new mod using Knossos and  then create a package.  Then you paste your mod's folders and files (including the data folder) into the folder that package creates.  You don't have to make vps, just place the 'raw' files and folders in there as checking the "build vp files" box will do it for you.

Then finally, you add dependencies which you see in the first screenshot -- these would be to FSO, mediavps and blue planet, or so it sounds from your description.  These dependencies replace the old mod.ini concept.  They exist so that you do not have to tell people what they need to download, or what those mods have to be named -- Knossos will automatically download any dependencies your mod might have.  This is the real benefit of Knossos -- it worries about messy dependencies, and then you can create fresh versions of your mod with a couple of clicks.

If a man consults whether he is to fight, when he has the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion is against fighting.

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
To clarify; Knossos downloads dependencies for players when they choose to install your mod. If a player only has retail and they click to install Mantle, then Knossos will install Mantle, BP, and MediaVPs.

However, when you are creating a mod in the development tab, you cannot tell Knossos to use BP as a dependency if you don't have it installed from Knossos.

Knossos is blissfully unaware of your old fs2 folder with it's billions of mods. Knossos does all the heavy lifting for you while you were still trying to do it yourself which caused most of your problems. The resistance to downloading anything via Knossos caused the rest of your issues.

Knossos is a fresh start, unconcerned with doing things like a launcher designed 10+ years ago. This is a core principle of it that is single handedly responsible for how easy it is for new players to get straight into gameplay as quickly as possible. Sure, things are a little different for mod developers... But we learned all the things necessary to make a mod including FRED, and who knows what other tools... We can figure this out, too.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 01:51:02 pm by mjn.mixael »
Cutscene Upgrade Project - Mainhall Remakes - MixaelANITools - Between the Ashes - MjnMixael's Render Boutique - Mix-Hai Productions
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Offline HLD_Prophecy

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
So my beloved wxLauncher is outclassed?  :sigh:

Man, I felt the same thing when I moved from the default launcher.

Realy though, I can't/shouldn't be using wxlauncher anymore?

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
You can use whatever launcher you like. The mods I work on will only be uploaded to Knossos (which does provide single file downloads if that's your thing), though. Knossos as a distribution platform, file host, and versioning system is unparalleled and I see no reason to try and match that (duplicate my effort) for other types of installs.

I was 45 minutes into packing up MediaVPs 3.8 (creating VPs, zipping them up, gathering checksums, etc) when I realized Knossos does all of this and even offers individual downloads... and it does it faster.
Cutscene Upgrade Project - Mainhall Remakes - MixaelANITools - Between the Ashes - MjnMixael's Render Boutique - Mix-Hai Productions
Youtube Channel - P3D Model Box - Photobucket Albums - Model Releases - Downloads
Between the Ashes is looking for committed testers, PM me for details.
Report MediaVP issues, now on the MediaVP Mantis! Read all about it Here!

 
Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
So my beloved wxLauncher is outclassed?  :sigh:

Man, I felt the same thing when I moved from the default launcher.

Realy though, I can't/shouldn't be using wxlauncher anymore?
Well, nothing prevents you from installing mods the old-fashioned way and still use wxLauncher, but the consensus is very much that Knossos is the future.

It's a self-updating integrated installer/launcher that can manage complex mod dependencies and versions all by itself. It's much more newby friendly than any other launcher or installer that FSO has had over the years. It only gets complicated when you get to the dev tab, and I suspect that it's mostly because we are all so used to the old system that we feel kinda lost.

EDIT - ninja'd by mjn who makes a better case

 

Offline ngld

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
I think the most important things have been adressed but I'll try to go over everything you mentioned for completeness sake.

So. I open it up and Mantle -- which is in my FS2 folder along with a billion other mods -- is nowhere to be found except as a tile in the "explore" category. Installing that would presumably just download the old version that I released last year, which I don't want to do because it would be pointless
This already presents a problem: Someone already uploaded your mod and if you upload it yourself, there's going to be two seperate entries for Mantle on Knossos which is going to be VERY confusing. In this case it was Novachen who later deleted it for unrelated reasons. This also explains why it later vanished.

and I don't want to test because downloading things with Knossos doesn't work.
This is a serious issue which we'll have to resolve because using Knossos is pointless if you don't download anything. It's simply not going to work.

The only mods that are installed are a couple that I think I installed last time I tried to use this thing, before I gave up and deleted some of the Knossos files so I could actually use a functioning launcher again.
Which files did you delete? If you deleted anything outside of %APPDATA%, there's a good chance you broke something.

Now there's also this other Freespace Open folder alongside my FS2 directory, which IIRC was also created during my first Knossos install.
Where is this folder? Are you talking about %APPDATA%\HardLightProductions\FreeSpaceOpen or another folder? The former is created by FSO.
I'm guessing that this folder is the one you selected when you installed Knossos. The first time you run it, it sets up everything it needs and asks you a few questions. One question is where to install mods. Since Knossos uses a folder structure which is different from other launchers, it needs a new folder and can't use your old FS2 installation. The new folder structure is necessary for a few things that Knossos does (among them TC support, supporting 32 and 64bit builds side by side, etc.).

It has folders for the few mods Knossos registers as installed, which I think contain all of the necessary files for those mods. However, it doesn't contain any FS2 executables, FRED instances, or anything that looks like it might be a dedicated launcher. I have no clue as to the purpose of this second folder, beyond the misdirection of hapless modders.
That folder should contain the FS2, temp and bin subdirectories. The bin folder contains all installed FSO (and FRED) builds, the temp folder is used for downloads and the FS2 folder contains the installed mods. If you install TCs, they'll also get their own folder here.
A dedicated launcher would be pointless since Knossos is already a functional launcher.

So at this point I don't even know where I should be looking. Most of the features of the launcher I'm used to seem to appear in the options menu, except there's no way to, y'know, actually launch it -- except by selecting a mod from the list.
That's the point. You click on the play button for the mod you want to play. After that (if everything was installed properly), FSO launches and everything from there is the way it used to be. Command line flags work differently in Knossos compared to other launchers. Instead of having profiles (like wxLauncher), Knossos stores the flags for each mod. You have a global flags section on Knossos' settings screen which allows you to set global defaults. These are combined with the settings the mod dev set when uploading their mod to build the mod's command line flags. Finally, you can edit the flags for each mod by opening the FSO settings screen (Home tab > dropdown for the mod > FSO Settings). This overrides all other flag settings. The idea is that you can have a global set of flags which affects all mods, inexperienced users get a nice default setting from the mod dev and experienced users can tweak the flags on a per-mod basis.

Anyway. So I tried moving Mantle and its dependents into the Freespace Open folder, hoping that Knossos would register them as installed.
This doesn't work since Knossos uses mod.json files instead of mod.inis and a different folder structure.

(This appears to have made Mantle vanish from the list of installable mods, which is weird as hell -- presumably some name-uniqueness thing? That or it was removed since I last saw it and I'm just not remembering correctly.)
As mentioned above, Mantle was removed by Novachen who uploaded it before and thus is completely unrelated to anything you did.

It didn't make Knossos register them, but it did let me run Mantle with the command-line flags. Unfortunately the game shat itself and closed as soon as I loaded a mission. Apparently it couldn't find any of my custom assets, despite they and their tables all being right there in the folder that I moved.
As I pointed out above, Knossos uses a different folder structure. I'm not sure where you moved your mod files but chances are that FSO was looking for things in the wrong folder.

(Something similar happened when I tried to run FRED from my FS2 folder -- opening a mission from Mantle resulted in a bunch of errors and half the ships getting turned into Ulysses because somehow it couldn't find my models.)
Due to the different folder structure, manually running FSO or FRED unfortunately doesn't work anymore. You have to launch them through Knossos. Additionally, in the most recent version of Knossos it doesn't even use the cmdline.cfg file anymore which means that manually running FSO or FRED will completely ignore any mod selection or cmdline flags from Knossos.

So I moved Mantle's folder and its dependents back, saw that other thread on using the "development" tab to create a mod for this purpose, and tried that.
This is the intended way and would've saved you a lot of frustration.

I managed to make a mod pointing to Mantle's ini. It yelled at me when I tried to put bpcomplete and mediavps_2014 as dependents. I was hoping that wouldn't amount to anything; I was incorrect.
Errors or warnings from Knossos usually have a reason. If you see one and everything works fine, you've found a bug. What did the error message say?

But that doesn't help anyway because once I put in the settings and launched it, it just gave me retail FS2. Presumably it can't find bpcomplete or the mediavps. Aaaand that's where I am now, having finally gotten sufficiently annoyed about this to go on the internet and rant about it.
Apparently, your mod's dependencies weren't setup correctly which resulted in FSO not using/finding them.

So. Here's what I think is happening:

When Knossos installs a mod, it installs it into the new Freespace Open folder. This installation contains unique architecture which can't be replicated by simply moving a preexisting folder from the old system into the new directory.
Correct.

Therefore the way to link an old mod to Knossos -- other than building said architecture from scratch, which I have no idea how to do -- is to use the "development" tab to create a shell mod, containing the necessary architecture, which points to the old one.
Partly correct. Building the folder structure from scratch is easy but creating the mod.json file can be complicated an error prone. Using the dev tab in Knossos is way easier and prevent most common mistakes.
The new mod is neither a shell mod nor does it point to the old folder. Knossos copies the mod files from your old folder into the new folder and tries to convert as much of the mod.ini contents as possible. However, this process isn't simple and tends to fail (which you apparently experienced). In my experience it's easier to create a new mod in Knossos from scratch and copy the files over yourself. Also, Knossos extracts your VPs if you use the automatic mod.ini import IIRC.

But, presumably, Knossos doesn't know what to do with further dependencies if they rely on mods it doesn't recognize.
Correct.

So if I wanted to run Mantle, I would need to create a Knossos mod pointing to mediavps_2014, then create a Knossos mod pointing to bpcomplete and dependent upon mediavps_2014,
ABSOLUTELY NOT! This will cause issues for everyone involved later on and is unnecessary work. You're supposed to install the MediaVPs and Blue Planet Complete through Knossos. That's the only way it can guarantee that your mod works for everyone later on since it can guarantee that everyone is using the same files and setup.

This...just... It makes me think this is a system specifically designed to generate cruft, and I have no idea why. I can only guess that the intent is to create a cleaner mod installation system, but in this case, at least, it's done the opposite.
I think you got a completely wrong impression which seems mostly due to the fact that you're trying very hard to use your existing FS2 installation which unfortunately isn't possible with Knossos. Knossos is a self contained system which makes it more robust and easier to use for new people. An unfortunate side-effect is that it's not compatible with mod.ini files, existing FS2 installations or other launchers.

The new MediaVPs won't download. They got stuck at 95% after like three hours*,
You can click the blue "Installing... 95%" button and receive a more detailed view of what Knossos is doing right now. Can you please post a screenshot of it and/or your %APPDATA%\knossos\log.txt file? That would help me figure out what is causing your installation issues.

and then when I tried to cancel (because it doesn't let you close the program while there are processes running) it stopped responding. Gah. At least it doesn't keep running in the background after I close the window; those are the worst.
I just went through the related code. If the download is stuck, aborting it can apparently lead to Knossos hanging since it waits forever for the download to abort. I'll see if I can think of a proper way to fix this. My guess is that the connection to the download server was interrupted and never timed out (although it should).

*I have a fairly bad internet connection at the moment, so that might just be how long it takes. Still, I'm not sure.
This reinforces my suspicion that the connection was interrupted which means that the download would've never finished anyway.

So...I'm genuinely not sure what I'm supposed to be doing here. Is there a big link to a guide somewhere in one of the release threads, [...]
No, however a lot of these questions have come up on Discord or in the Knossos thread where they were discussed and resolved. At some point it was proposed to write a guide for Knossos but that effort died. I've tried to make Knossos as self-explaining as possible (i.e. if you create a new mod you should see a help text explaining what packages are and how they work).

But, in my case -- I need some idea of what's going on under the hood, because I have to make sure my mod isn't broken. And...this whole new system is making that process a giant pain in the ass.
It's supposed to do the opposite. IMO most of your problems are a result of you wanting to do things manually as you've done them before instead of using the dev tab or asking for help.

I hope I've answered most of your questions and that you'll ask for help earlier next time you run into issues with Knossos. (If you had asked for help when you noticed that installing mods didn't work, we might've avoided much frustration.). I can't fix bugs that I don't know about.

EDIT: wxLauncher should continue to work in the future unless the SCP team decides to introduce a new breaking change. In fact, older launchers should work fine with recent nightlies even if you use the latest wxLauncher or Knossos.
Regarding the download links, here's a list of all publicly available mods on Knossos with download links: https://fsnebula.org/mods

2nd EDIT: Forgot to respond to something.
[...] it doesn't let you close the program while there are processes running [...]
If it did, chances are you'd end up with a corrupted install since you would have interrupted it in the middle of installing a mod. To avoid such problems, you can only quit Knossos after cancelling such tasks which takes care of the cleanup. I agree that it'd be better if you could close it and have Knossos automatically cancel any running task but that turned out more complicated than I'd like since I never considered this scenario when I designed the task system.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 10:36:34 pm by ngld »

 
Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Thanks for all the information, guys! This is really helpful. Sorry about posting a giant wall of text like that.

  
Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Okay, so, I've been taking another crack at this. Downloading things seems to work now, so that's good.

There's an issue that I apparently forgot about in the midst of everything else: Knossos is saying that it can't connect to FSNebula. That's the warning it was giving me when I tried to make a new mod. I'm really not sure why this is happening, but it seems to be screwing some things up.

Also: wait, how do I tell a mod to be dependent upon other mods? I thought it was in the mod-creation screen, but it doesn't seem to be -- unless "total conversion" refers to any mod in general. Normally it's done in the mod.ini, but it sounds like Knossos doesn't use those?

Now, when I make packages, do I need to make subfolders within the package folders? i.e., missions, tables, so on? Or do I just dump everything into the package and Knossos will sort it out?

Oh, and, little bit of trivia: I wasn't using wxLauncher before. I was using the plain, simple Launcher, which I think preceded it? I had similar problems trying to get wxLauncher to work, so I stuck with the older one.

 

Offline niffiwan

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Not being able to connect to nebula will be a problem for downloading & uploading mods. But I don't think it should stop you from playing already installed mods. Can you connect to https://fsnebula.org/ in a browser?

In Admiral Nelson's screenshot above there's a blue text/link on the right hand side saying "add dependency". You should get that button when you've selected a package in your mod, in the screenshot the "Core" package is selected.

You need to create some subfolders inside the package folders, the typical data/missions, data/models, etc.  There's more info in step 5 of this not-quite-complete guide: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oHq1YRc1eXbCgW-NqqKo1-6N_myfZzoBdwZuP16XImA/edit?pli=1#
Creating a fs2_open.log | Red Alert Bug = Hex Edit | MediaVPs 2014: Bigger HUD gauges | 32bit libs for 64bit Ubuntu
----
Debian Packages (testing/unstable): Freespace2 | wxLauncher
----
m|m: I think I'm suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Bmpman is starting to make sense and it's actually written reasonably well...

 

Offline jr2

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Is this up-to-date, and does Knossos use these mirrors?  If so, seems there might be issues:

https://dev.tproxy.de/fs2/mirrors/

 

Offline PIe

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Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
That's for the Java FSOInstaller.
[9:50 PM] Sottises: wait did you do vassago's verge?
[9:50 PM] Sottises: .. dirge?
[9:50 PM] Axem: yes
[9:50 PM] Sottises: ohh
[9:50 PM] Sottises: well I have that and JAD too
[9:50 PM] Axem: :)
[9:50 PM] Sottises: what a contrast of themes lmao
[9:50 PM] Axem: isnt it
[9:51 PM] Axem: super grimdark thriller about unknowable alien intelligence and over the top colorful action about friendship
[9:51 PM] PIe: jad is grimdark???
[9:51 PM] Axem: :skull:

[6:23 PM] PIe: why do I have the feeling that I shouldn't be able to give orders to 22nd armored hq
[6:24 PM] Axem: 22nd armored hq, i order you to get me a cup of coffee
[6:24 PM] PIe: and donuts
[6:24 PM] PIe: BECAUSE THIS IS THE GTVA POLICE
[6:25 PM] Axem: :O
[6:25 PM] Axem: am i under arrest
[6:26 PM] [`_`]/: no, just please step out of the myrmidon
[6:26 PM] [`_`]/: you have so much to fred for

 
Re: "Knossos -- how does it work?": A Narrative
Not being able to connect to nebula will be a problem for downloading & uploading mods. But I don't think it should stop you from playing already installed mods. Can you connect to https://fsnebula.org/ in a browser?

In Admiral Nelson's screenshot above there's a blue text/link on the right hand side saying "add dependency". You should get that button when you've selected a package in your mod, in the screenshot the "Core" package is selected.

You need to create some subfolders inside the package folders, the typical data/missions, data/models, etc.  There's more info in step 5 of this not-quite-complete guide: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oHq1YRc1eXbCgW-NqqKo1-6N_myfZzoBdwZuP16XImA/edit?pli=1#

Yeah, Firefox will connect to that site just fine.

EDIT: Good news! I've got it working. Just been working out kinks in the old files. I'll probably upload the patch within the next week.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2018, 09:25:53 am by Kestrellius »