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Old 21-11-2006, 12:48 AM   #1
Treewyrm
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I know it's frustrating when you need to figure out DOSBox parameters in order to run the game, sometimes for people who are not familiar with old hardware get easily stuck with configuration. A friend of mine who doesn't know a bit about all that vintage stuff has asked me to make him a game to run at system without all that hassle with DOSBox configuration and so on. So I've put everything together, configured, tested and finally compiled into nice-looking installer based on small-yet-powerful NSIS (see the screenshots below). Then I realized that perhaps this is what people really want, easy pre-configured build without all those troubles and frustration when it comes to running old games on modern system. Given that there's a discussion about Abandonia & BitTorrent I thought it would be cool make some sort of user-friendly releases that way and then use BitTorrent to download those. I'm sure DOSBox experts and those with patience (like me) will eventually make almost any game run smooth but what about the rest? I'm sure they would find something like this very nice and friendly:







In the end he just had to click "next", "next", "next" and then simply run shortcut in program files and that's it. Everything else was pre-configured.

Perhaps all this isn't worth it, perhaps it's quite complicated given that the person who have to make those must know NSIS script and so on. But perhaps there is a chance making games like that, something I believe Abandonia could use later...

CD images can be stored inside the installer (which can be un7zipped manually, useful for linux folks) so the purists can get original CD image for their collection. There are many other possibilities and so on... but before going anywhere further... Comments, thoughts, ideas?
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Old 21-11-2006, 05:48 AM   #2
duckpatch
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Treewyrm, this is absolutely brilliant! The only thing I would see wrong with it is that people may only like having games not installed on their system, meaning that running an install for each game could be a bother. But this idea of yours would save the average n00b alot of pondering time.

And, BTW, when I was looking at the screenshots I thought Albion was re-vamped or something.. very pro indeed!!!
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Old 21-11-2006, 11:56 AM   #3
The Fifth Horseman
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Sounds just about perfect.

Only problem I see is that some of us prefer using the games in DosBox and messing with the settings on their own, and from what I get each game installed this way would also include a separate copy of DosBox, correct?

That would also add nearly a megabyte to each game, in some cases being several times more then the size of game itself.

In my private opinion it would be wiser to simply include a pre-defined config file for the game and a shortcut that launches a pre-installed copy of DosBox using that config file.

Oh, and a side note... what is NSIS? Some sort of programming language, I presume?
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Old 21-11-2006, 12:29 PM   #4
gregor
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(the_fifth_horseman @ Nov 21 2006, 12:56 PM) [snapback]267955[/snapback]</div>
Quote:

In my private opinion it would be wiser to simply include a pre-defined config file for the game and a shortcut that launches a pre-installed copy of DosBox using that config file.

[/b]
yeah some sort of .bat file that would include all the parameters required to run the game in DosBox.


still the install version is safer for newbies. but then again it also really adds to the size of the game. imagine those 50kB games inlcuding such installer with DoxBox
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Old 21-11-2006, 12:37 PM   #5
Treewyrm
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Well, I've been thinking about it and here are possible ways I see:

1) Each game includes bundled pre-configured DOSBox. Good thing for newbies, bad thing for everyone else since every game will have it's own DOSBox and that's generally a bad idea I think.

2) Each game doesn't include DOSBox itself but rather configuration file suited to run the game. User will have to install DOSBox manually though. This way games will not need to contain DOSBox in each installation, good for size, however it will require a little work afterwards, so I don't think it's much better.

3) Again, each game doesn't include DOSBox but will verify if it exists, a user should point installer to DOSBox location and the installer will do the rest and create valid shortcuts and etc. Almost nothing to do for user but still have to download DOSBox manually.

4) Same as above but installer will also be able to download DOSBox itself if there isn't any on user system (or simply if user wants to). Good thing is that it's sort of update system that will things easier for users. A rather complex task but I know NSIS is capable of this and even much more.

NSIS stands for NullSoft Installation System, installer behind WinAMP and many other software. It's very common today for internet distribution because it have smallest overhead (approx. 30kbytes, depends on many factors though), high compression ratio (lzma, good for old games too) and many features yet to be seen in commercial installation software. I've been using it for some time and even had a chance to make use of it in commercial environment (I used to work in game development/publishing and I also did installers for some games). I think it's well suited for the job and would provide users with easy way of installing and running games.

Once generic installer script is made and tested it can be used later for any game, all you'll have to do is to change the name and perhaps add new sections (components) if you want to (or UI art like I did for Albion). Or anything game-specific. In any case people who will want to wrap their games with it will not need to know programming at all. We could even design it to look in the same style as Abandonia website, NSIS is a very flexible installer (also opensource and free for any use).

Why not .bat? Well... It's ugly, you still have to do things yourself and etc. The goal of the installer is provide easy and yet effective way of making game to run in DOSBox. Those who don't want to do anything with installers can unzip it with 7zip and install everything on their own as they like. This way nobody get hurts and both newbies and experts get the same.
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Old 21-11-2006, 12:49 PM   #6
Abi79
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It would be a great thing to do, and as for Horseman's "Only problem I see is that some of us prefer using the games in DosBox and messing with the settings on their own", I believe that those of us who like changing the DOSBox settings without any help could still do it, no? The games could be set to install themselves in c:\program files\abandonware, for example, and then the only thing which would need to be changed is the line mount C....
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Old 21-11-2006, 12:55 PM   #7
Treewyrm
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Once again I would like to point out that everyone is free to modify configuration and do whatever they like with installer, I've already mentioned twice above that you can manually un7zip it. Also, please, read the message I've posted above, it explains different ways installer may work. The idea behind all this is to make a single distribution format suitable both for newbies and experts and I believe it is something NSIS can do. Once we figure out: a) if we need such installer; b) how installer will work; I can start coding generic installer script which later can be used to automaticly pack any game with pre-configured DOSBox configuration file and etc. Some people like those DOSBox GUI like D-Fend and etc, perhaps I could also make installer to generate D-Fend profile and even automaticly import it (I yet have to see how it works, but my guess that it's possible as well).

To summarize: small overhead + high compression ratio (LZMA compression) + intuitive installation process + included configuration file + manual unpackage (can also be done on non-windows system, lzma compression is free and there are many both gui and cli tools for other systems avaliable) + nice and clean ui (and distinguishable look).
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Old 21-11-2006, 01:37 PM   #8
TheChosen
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Brilliant! Just brilliant!
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Old 22-11-2006, 09:41 AM   #9
gregor
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I like the mentioned number 4 type of instalation. because i don't actually need dosbox (i have win 98). i must say i am very much in for this one. i downloaded from CGA and they have (or at least used to have) installer. Which is good, cause it's easy and it nicelly puts all shortcuts and games into folder, so everything stays nicelly organised.

I don't think too much art is necessary (each game it's own art), but would be cool if it had some common abandonia like look.

i am all for it.
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Old 22-11-2006, 12:08 PM   #10
Doc Angelo
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Very, very good idea. If there is a small note next to the download ("Download and execute or extract the file.") really everybody should know, what to do.

What about adding an option "D-Fend Configuration"? I think many are using this frontend for DosBox, so if it is possible to add this feature, it would be really comfortable. Position of the .exe's and mounting information will be written to the .conf and .prof and then copied to the "Confs"-Folder. Infomation about the game could be added (if its not already there) to the Profile/Publisher/Genres/Developers.DAT. I think it will not be to big, to have all genres in all languages (Aktion, Action, kzion) in the installer, chosen by a check for standard os-language. And... if the average image is not too big, there can be created a capture folder and be filled with 3 images from the game, so that D-Fend can display the fresh installed game with all features of the frontend. And of course, after install an option to start DosBox or D-Fend.

I just saw, that D-Fend is not in the programs section... :blink: I cant believe it. :w00t:
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