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maruk

Addons at ease

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Dear Addon makers,

we believe it's time to try to change the way how are the addons distributed if we want them to be more accessible to every user of Operation Flashpoint.

In order to achieve this, we want to introduce an initiative "Addons at ease" in near future.

We want to adress following issues:

1) Convenient, simple and standard install / uninstall of addons/missions for Operation Flashpoint. For this we developed a special utility to creat MSI Windows Installer file to install any Operation Flashpoint addon or mission.

2) Most addons currently come without any mission. We believe any addon for general public should come at least with one simple demo mission.

3) Many addons and mission require some other addons etc. so it's sometimes very hard to get it all working in the game. Ideally, we would like to see single files containing logical collection of addons and missions and have gamers to get just the single file to play with it in the game (without having to open the mission editor etc.)

4) We want the OFPEC TAG system become standard in the addon making community as it seems the only reasonable way how to keep addons compatible.

5) We consider version 1.90 / 1.91 as the only one supported platform for this initiative.

At the end, we would like to advertize selected best quality addons compliant with our initiative at www.flashpoint1985.com which we hope will bring more fun to all of us and more recogntition to you, creators of great new content for the game.

I know there's a lot of eventual controversy and issues in this effort. I recommend you to use this thread to general comments to the initiative and tu start new threads if you would like to discuss any specific point into deeper detail.

Thanks

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Well, so much for hush-hush.

BTW, may I suggest that we refer to Addons At Ease with an acronym, like AAE? smile.gif

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And now for some issues:

Comment #1: If there's anything a lot of people hate, it's installers of harmless files that alter Windows registry. However, I think people will adjust to it as time passes by.

Comment #2: The installer does not allow you to define mod folders. It forces addons into the Addons subdirectory. This is very bad. Many people are overwhelmed with MBs/GBs of addons and I don't have to tell you what happens when you start up OFP with so many, do I?

Comment #3: I would like to disagree with having to bundle other people's addons that might be required for the addon itself or for the sample mission. I think you're making a big mistake in this requirement. I can understand requiring the addon maker to supply multiple MSIs for each addon. That would allow for a new single MSI to replace a single one that's been updated.

If you would allow this, that would lead to another problem of requiring addon maker A to bundle a sample mission in addon maker B's MSI file.

Another major disadvantage of requiring the bundling of addons together is the increased size of the download file, especially when so many people might already have the latest version of the bundled addon.

Looking forward to your reply.

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (Maruk @ April 10 2003,12:04)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE"><span id='postcolor'>

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">1) Convenient, simple and standard install / uninstall of addons/missions for Operation Flashpoint. For this we developed a special utility to creat MSI Windows Installer file to install any Operation Flashpoint addon or mission.

<span id='postcolor'>

Why is this necessary? Addons go in the addons folder, missions go in the missions folder? I can see it being useful for large packs/bundles, but for every individual addon and mission to have it's own installer seems a little pointless, and a bit messy...loads of registry entries everywhere. But for packs/mods....sure, sounds good.

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">2) Most addons currently come without any mission. We believe any addon for general public should come at least with one simple demo mission.<span id='postcolor'>

A nice idea maybe, but again every little addon having a mission? There are a lot of addons (ie a plant, or a traffic cone) that it would be a bit silly to have a mission for? Perhaps you might narrow this down to only certain types of addons.

Also remember that people who make addons don't necessarily make missions. Or that isn't how they choose to spend their time. Although I would agree that something could/should be done to stimulate this mission makeing side of things, this might not be the best way to do it....but that's for another thread wink.gif

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">3) Many addons and mission require some other addons etc. so it's sometimes very hard to get it all working in the game. Ideally, we would like to see single files containing logical collection of addons and missions and have gamers to get just the single file to play with it in the game (without having to open the mission editor etc.)<span id='postcolor'>

Nice idea, but a couple of difficulties. Who chooses, what is the criteria, who releases it and how is it distributed? If BIS were willing to put together some packs and have them available for download or even a ultra-cheap (like a "Have This File Burnt To CD" sort of site) I think this could work.

One of the problems though (and this has come up many times before) is the whole issue of balancing various user-made addons. Not only keeping things relatively equal, so everyone doesn't just grab the same gun/tank/whatever, but also balancing realism vs gameplay.

If this sort of thing is going to be done, then it really (IMO) needs to be done on a big scale. Big packs, covering a large number of addons...all balanced to a good degree.

The other alternative (and if this has been discussed and dismissed before then don't flame me hard) is to be able to download not just the mission file, but any required addons that the client does not have (and needs) from the server. I don't know how feasable or popular this idea is, but it works for a lot of games, and certainly is a lot less stress on the user.

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">4) We want the OFPEC TAG system become standard in the addon making community as it seems the only reasonable way how to keep addons compatible.

<span id='postcolor'>

Yep! smile.gif

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">5) We consider version 1.90 / 1.91 as the only one supported platform for this initiative.<span id='postcolor'>

Yep again smile.gif

I am really glad to seee BIS taking an interest in the user-created addons side of things, but I think maybe some aspects would need to be thought out, discussed or modified a little bit more. Not in order to make everyone happy, but to make as many people happy as possible smile.giftounge.gif

Hope to hear more about this,

Leone

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I too do not think that each and every addon needs a demo mission. A good readme is sufficient imho.

And as AvonLady said i really DISLIKE installers. You can't see what they do (many from my players complained that the bw-mod installer screwed up their ofp installation as it installs exe and dlls and stuff) and you can't use modfolders. I have 15 modfolders at this moment which i load on demand. And i think with growing numbers of addons modfolders are the only way to go. Letting every addon be put in the same directory by an installer just leads to useless waste of ram and huge, unsorted, chaotic addon collections.

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I'd support this idea. I'd even try to make sample missions, but they will not be very sophisticated or contain a big story. Just a little mission that shows the addon and it's possibilitys. Also I'd like to be able to modify the installer. Mainly I mean to be able to add an image to it like with the MT-LB installer for instance,  or backround music that plays during installation (music is not that importand though).

PSC

*edit*

If I understand Maruk correctly a mission should be added, but is not 100% necessary.

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (PSC @ April 10 2003,15:45)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">If I understand Maruk correctly a mission should be added, but is not 100% necessary.<span id='postcolor'>

I understand it as required and I agree that it should be.

Som many good addons have come out with no demo missions and by coincidence mission makers aren't inspired to use them.

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I think this is unnecessary myself, and just complicates something that worked perfectly fine to begin with. I understand and appreciate what you're trying to acheive, I just don't see the need.

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">we believe it's time to try to change the way how are the addons distributed if we want them to be more accessible to every user of Operation Flashpoint.<span id='postcolor'>

Can you explain why they're difficult to access now?

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">5) We consider version 1.90 / 1.91 as the only one supported platform for this initiative.<span id='postcolor'>

This doesn't sound like it supports every user of OFP. I gather this means that the installer system is optimised for 1.90/1.91, but that 1.46 users can still access unofficial addons through the usual means?

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">2) Most addons currently come without any mission. We believe any addon for general public should come at least with one simple demo mission.<span id='postcolor'>

I don't think this is necessary. It takes long enough to make addons as it is. Leave the mission making to the mission makers.

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">3) Many addons and mission require some other addons etc. so it's sometimes very hard to get it all working in the game. Ideally, we would like to see single files containing logical collection of addons and missions and have gamers to get just the single file to play with it in the game (without having to open the mission editor etc.)<span id='postcolor'>

Agreed, but can we still edit this file if we want to, to alter it for our tastes?

Thanks for your continued support of our community.

Cheers

Mr B

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (Leone @ April 10 2003,14:10)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Why is this necessary? Addons go in the addons folder, missions go in the missions folder?<span id='postcolor'>

I am afraid this point shows again what is the main reason of this initiative. We want to make addons extremely easy to use - click and play. Copying files into specific folder is a think that is way to diffucult for many computer users.

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">A nice idea maybe, but again every little addon having a mission? There are a lot of addons (ie a plant, or a traffic cone) that it would be a bit silly to have a mission for? Perhaps you might narrow this down to only certain types of addons.

<span id='postcolor'>

While I agree not every addon needs to have a mission, the addon that is intended to be used by users, and not only by editing comminity, needs to have one. Nobody wants to tell you that you cannot make addons without missions - but if you do, they cannot bear Addons At Ease mark - and absence of this mark will tells users such addon may be moire complicated to use.

</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote </td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Also remember that people who make addons don't necessarily make missions.<span id='postcolor'>

This is valid point. We are considering how to address this. One option is to provide a simple mission template which addon makers could use as a basic of their "minimal" missions.

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To avoid any misunderstanding:

Addons At Ease is not meant to be a standard all addons released have to accept. It is meant as a "mark" telling users that if they will download an addon marked with appropriate logo, they will be able to install, use and uninstall it easily.

You can produce any addons not conforming to the rules above - but such addons cannot bear "Addons At Ease" mark.

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (PSC @ April 10 2003,14:45)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Mainly I mean to be able to add an image to it like with the MT-LB installer for instance,  or backround music that plays during installation (music is not that importand though).<span id='postcolor'>

You will be able to modify an image shown during installation, but no music/sounds will be played and you will not be add any.

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I would personnally raise a single objection against MSI installers : Linux servers. At least, zip files for Linux servers should be kept available, or installing addons on server would be... hard smile.gif (given the fact that one can be not aware of the pbo name of the installed addon, etc...)

Otherwise, is nice to see you once more giving full support. Thanks.

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Ok, seeing Suma's reply, it would be up to addon makers to provide zip files, so it's all right.

Whis'

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So, the AAE mark is like the little chef's hats on the side of packet cakes, that tell you how much skill you need to bake the cake, and AAE mark is like one hat? You can still bake cakes that don't use the hats system, it's just for the benefit of the shopper so they know what they're buying?

I think I get it now tounge.gif .

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in regards to packaging everything together - I put forth an idea some time ago - not sure if anyone from the team saw it at that time, and it would require an update to OFP (I doubt if that would make it feasible).

Basically, every addon must have a new section in the config with an author contact email and a download/info url.

When you write a mission with any addons, the mission collects all that info for each addon.

When a user loads the mission, if there is an error for missing addons, the name, the contact and url for the addon get written to an html file, which can have a shortcut in the OFP start menu folder, or a new button from the options menu.

That way if a user gets a missing addons error - they will automatically have a resource to track them down. It's not a perfect solution, but better than coming to the forum and asking what addons a mission needs.

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A fantastic initiative biggrin.gif

The OFPEC tag system was instituted for that exact reason - to keep addon's compatible and uniquely named.

But: the tag registration is down at present. confused.gif

It will be back up this weekend, and we'll make it more accessable.

Here is the listing as it currently stands:

http://www.ofpec.com/addons/tags_list.php

Thanks BIS!

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (theavonlady @ April 10 2003,13:41)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Comment #3: I would like to disagree with having to bundle other people's addons that might be required for the addon itself or for the sample mission. I think you're making a big mistake in this requirement. I can understand requiring the addon maker to supply multiple MSIs for each addon. That would allow for a new single MSI to replace a single one that's been updated.

If you would allow this, that would lead to another problem of requiring addon maker A to bundle a sample mission in addon maker B's MSI file.<span id='postcolor'>

This point seems really valid to me and we agree it needs to be discussed.

I think rules could be changed a little:

- sample mission should not require any other addons beside of the one being installed and official BIS addons

- if the addons itselft requires other addons to work properly, it it has to:

i) include such addons in requiredAddons[] list

ii) provide exact insructions where to get the addons

iii) the addons in question has to be "At Ease" as well

Solving addon dependecies is often one thing that makes using many addons real nightmare, and we would really like to make this as easy as possible.

If you have any comments, feel free to discuss it here. We are aware that an initiative like this can have an important impact on addon makes, and that why we discuss with you here it before starting it.

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I just discussed this with OFrP members, seems that this is something which will be more than welcome.

So far, about pack system and demo mission, we fully agree on this topic, and support the idea.

But what about versionning?

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To make it more clear:

The entire and only goal of this initiative is to make the best addons available and accessible for the more casual gamer and not only for the small community/minority as it's now and hopefully make the community bigger and Flashpoint generally stronger within the gaming world.

If you don't want your addon (and in this case I understand the addon as mission or addon, not only addon in the Flashpoint term) to be more accessible to general public, fair enough and continue to do everything as you do it now.

We don't have any plan to do distribution of addons, it goes beyond this initiative. Our intention is to establish a submission and evaluation process and select the best addons (solely from BIS perspective) and recommend it at our official websites.

Concerning many special points and issue (including topic by Avon Lady using some insider information).

I see three major issues to discuss:

- the installer

- addons with or without missions

- addons or mission requiring addons to be installed from other sources

Generally, we preffer to make it easy for average gamers than to make happy hard core addon fanaticts but we're always ready to listen to your feedback.

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We [bAS] will definately be supporting this initative, an excellent idea, and with official supoort I can forsee great things to come...

Regarding the installer, will there be any option for an upgrade/patching system? Similar to the official BIS patches, so that the user does not have to re-download the entire addon, just a small update.

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If the patcher is able to jump from any version to up-to-date version, then it indeed would be an excellent idea.

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (whisperFFW06 @ April 10 2003,15:26)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">But what about versionning?<span id='postcolor'>

It's a good point. Currently, there's no way how to make versioning in Flashpoint missions and addons (this is something to consider in our next game).

But we definitelly should consier some versioning for the AAE packages.

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (Maruk @ April 09 2003,20:28)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">Our intention is to establish a submission and evaluation process and select the best addons (solely from BIS perspective) and recommend it at our official websites.<span id='postcolor'>

It would be GREAT if BIS would wrap up these files which they select as being 'best' in a single installer package (say once every month or so)...this would allow a single package of addons to be used as a (BIS) standard and make things ALOT easier on multiplay servers! Its alot easier to say "you need the latest update of the user addon pack from the BIS website" than to say..."you need this list of items to play". With a single package in place, addons may actually becomes useful for dedicated servers!

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (DeadMeatXM2 @ April 10 2003,15:41)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">...Regarding the installer, will there be any option for an upgrade/patching system? Similar to the official BIS patches, so that the user does not have to re-download the entire addon, just a small update...<span id='postcolor'>

That would be a nice feature. The possibility to update only single files inside a previously installed PBO. Like only the config.cpp, or a texture or P3D.

PSC

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</span><table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="1"><tr><td>Quote (Maruk @ April 10 2003,15:28)</td></tr><tr><td id="QUOTE">To make it more clear:

The entire and only goal of this initiative is to make the best addons available and accessible for the more casual gamer and not only for the small community/minority as it's now and hopefully make the community bigger and Flashpoint generally stronger within the gaming world.

Generally, we preffer to make it easy for average gamers than to make happy hard core addon fanaticts but we're always ready to listen to your feedback.<span id='postcolor'>

Yep...that's a lot clearer thanks Maruk. The only thing I wonder about is how you you actually go about getting these packs or addons to the casual gamer....and would they have a clue what AAE even meant? It would seem to me to be the fanatics that are the ones most likely to download such addons, because they are the ones who know where the sites are, and follow the progress of such things.

The casual gamer I suspect doesn't check Flashpoint websites, nor look for updates (or even patches). So how would they know about AAE? But I suspect this is something that BIS and CODEMASTERS might want to talk about (or not tounge.gif ) Just thought I'd mention it.

Yes, I talk too much, but one last thing...would this be an initiative that could be extended to an entire mod project at some point in the future? wink.gifsmile.gif

Thanks,

Leone

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