Installers and packaging

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mikey
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Installers and packaging

#1 Post by mikey » Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:34 pm

Yesterday, I played Kykuit again, and I noticed that the fact that it had an installer contributed to how I played it. With an installer, everything seems a bit more civilized - you have the icon, you have a program group with links to readmes and urls, and you have taken care of all the licensing things during the installation.

Also, if you look at the translation colleagues' releases, their installers are also an effective tool. You have the small teaser-pictures, like in Red Shift, and it all shows a kind of appreciation for the titles, be it a bigger release or a very small piece, even an icon and the name of the link can be a part of the experience (doesn't have to match the game's name). And this may have an effect on how people treat a release - with an installer, it's somehow more sophisticated.

Of course, I don't see a zipped file as barbarian. And yes, an installer can be a double edged sword, with the simple question of whether a simple release like a VN even deserves an installer - add to that the fact that technically speaking the installers are useless, since you can play from any directory, and no one really needs an extra entry on their Add/Rem list.

But still, what is your opinion, does using an installer also tell you about what the makers had in mind, how they treat their release or the players?

Or, more generally, what does the packaging of a game tell you and does that make a difference to you?

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#2 Post by monele » Wed Jun 14, 2006 2:26 pm

Not absolutely sure but usually installer do give a "professional" feeling (as long as they're well done!). I fondly remember a few commercial game installers that even give you things to watch while it installs (screenshots, story screens, etc...)... but given the size of our games, it would be more useful during the download than the installation... ^^;.
As you said though, the usefulness is nearly inexistant... except maybe for casual gamers who always start screaming whenever there are zips or rars or whatever to treat. Clicking "Next" is already too painful for some :).

Icons : always a good addition. I quickly checked the (Ren'ai) games I had on my HD and they all have a unique icon. Good thing, should stay this way ^^.

Packaging has always been important in some way... I remember the days of big game boxes with lots of goodies (yep, goodies, as was discussed with the "DVD bonus" idea, are also a good idea). Those were good days ^^

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#3 Post by DrakeNavarone » Wed Jun 14, 2006 2:40 pm

Installers look nice, but I think that's about it. I prefer the unpack-and-go style that the zipped games have. It's pretty convenient to just be able to unzip it and then start playing right away. While the installer isn't that annoying, it isn't instant like a zipped game.

One other note : My user account in Windows is a Limited account, so I don't have the privaledge of installing things to the Program Files folder. While I use the Limited account the most, I also do have an Administrator account so I can do things like switch the user account, use the Run As command, or I can just install it to a different directory, but this might not be the case for everyone who has a Limited account on Windows. The only real option then would be to choose a different directory that they had permission to install to, but that can be a hassle, and the computer-illiterate might not know what folders they do have permission for. With a zipped game, all of this technical stuff is gone, since (unless there's some weird reason why...) you can unpack the game in the same folder as the .zip file.

(The other side to this coin however is that if they have a Limited account, maybe they shouldn't be playing your game, so using an installer might be a better option... but who doesn't want their games to be played, right?)
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#4 Post by ShiraiJunichi » Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:05 pm

Installers bug me- I much prefer the zip. The zip can be cross-platform, and easily transfered to another computer. I have several computers, and copying a directory of all the games is a lot simpler than installing each one.
A lot of the extras of an install (such as links in the start menu and shortcuts on the desktop) I don't even want- they just clutter everything up. It would be ridiculous to have a shortcut to every ren'ai game at the archives on your desktop. I guess I sort of think of the games like I do video or other media files. Do I have links to my fansubs in my start menu? No. Do I have shortcuts to individual mp3s on my desktop? No. All of those media files I organize and place together, so they're easier to find. If you're like me, your Program Files folder has a lot of sub folders. Because of that, I don't like searching through the program files folder to find a program, unless I have to. And I don't have to for ren'ai games- unless there's an installer.

If you want to have something that nicely presents your game to the user, I think a splash screen is the best way to go.

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#5 Post by shaja » Wed Jun 14, 2006 6:09 pm

What a game packaged as a zipped directory says is "curious non-technical casual gamers need not bother".

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#6 Post by Watercolorheart » Wed Jun 14, 2006 6:11 pm

I suggest two distribution methods, then:

Zip and installer, both available wherever the file is hosted.

Simple solution, right?

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#7 Post by RedSlash » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:01 pm

I prefer zip file. With an installer, I always have the feeling that uninstalling through the "Add/Remove" will not cleanly uninstall all the files that were installed. Though I'm sure that's only the case of evil software packages. I like the idea of unpacking everything into a single directory.

Installers are good if you intent to support windows only and if you place your package on a CDROM.

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#8 Post by PyTom » Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:18 pm

RedSlash wrote:I prefer zip file. With an installer, I always have the feeling that uninstalling through the "Add/Remove" will not cleanly uninstall all the files that were installed.
Of course, it's just as likely that a program run from a zip will add registry entries, and then won't have an uninstaller to remove them.

This conversation reminded me that I updated the installer as part of the czech release of Ren'Py. I'll post it up when I get back to NY... until then, if someone wants an installer, email me.

I'm strongly considering making the next version of Ren'Py write to a system-specific place iff the normal save directory isn't writable. This will probably become necessary on windows vista.
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#9 Post by monele » Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:41 am

PyTom wrote:This will probably become necessary on windows vista
Why ? :/

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#10 Post by PyTom » Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:35 am

It looks like Vista will include a big push to not run as Administrator. As part of this, the Program Files directory will be only writable by administrators... meaning that we'll need to save data somewhere else.
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#11 Post by denzil » Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:38 am

I thought Vista asks user about those potentialy dangerous operations. But when defaul directory isn't writeable I think Documents\RenPy\game name will be best to have saves handy for backup. But %appdata%\RenPy\game name might be better if you don't want to read registry. (In czech Windows is Documents folder name localised as Dokumenty so it is necessary to read registry to get right directory.)
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#12 Post by F.I.A » Fri Jun 16, 2006 12:03 pm

Most doujin games follow the practice of making an installer. It is true that it gives a professional look when you can have a custom icon for the exe installer(Add in images during installation as well). However, it is also true that sometimes, add/remove or any form of uninstaller does not remove everything.

As for zip, it allows the "unpack and play", which is nice for an instant game. However, even it is very rare, some people just do not have a unzip program in their pc(Very true in this part of the globe.).

While I like having an installer more than a zip, guess I have to second BCS' idea in making two version(exe and zip) during a release.

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#13 Post by lordcloudx » Fri Jun 16, 2006 1:20 pm

So a cross between the two would be a self-extracting executable archive which can be viewed with or without an unzipping utility.
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#14 Post by monele » Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:24 pm

Btw, about installers : two free install makers (one by the ClickTeam and Nsis by NullSoft) seem quite "clean" to me. You don't need to install DLLs or anything special... just all the files in a directory, a desktop icon and Start Menu icons. Hard to mess this up I'd say :)

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#15 Post by RedSlash » Fri Jun 16, 2006 7:55 pm

How about an installer that works off a zip file? Basically, the installer would do nothing more than present a nice interface for installing and uninstalling and maybe some icons too. That way, those who like the installer can use it while those on platforms that does support exe's can unzip directly from the zip file.

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