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arno

Commercial scenery installer

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Hey all, nearly ready to release my Phoenix scenery and probably need to include an installer that does the majority of the work for the average user. This question's for other commercial designers that have included an installer. Have you had your installer simply copy the scenery and texture files into the appropriate directories or have you actually made changes to the scenery.cfg file? If the latter, what type of program did you use for locating, parsing, and editing the scenery.cfg file? With my scenery, there'll be multiple scenery areas that have to be prioritized properly for overlapping areas to display right. I could certainly include a VB front end for the scenery that would allow the user to turn on and off areas and complexity but that also puts the added burden of including an installer and runtime files for the control program. Almost tempting to simply include an old DOS Clipper program that does the dirty work. No support files would be necessary at all for that to work.Obviously, once a user has installed commercial scenery, anyone with a small amount of knowledge about FS9 would be able to copy out directories to their friends and bypass any copy protection you might put on an initial installer so I'm leery about the effectiveness of security keys. Any advice on preventing your commercial product from becoming freeware? Seems like trust and working on the conscience of your buyer is probably the most effective tool but I may be missing something. Art

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As a 'victim' of an errant installer which pretty much screwed up everything (thank goodness for System Restore!), I'd be very wary of trying to change the scenery.cfg file without at least offering the choice for those who don't want to risk it. I know that this is a tricky issue, wanting everything to go as smoothly and transparently as possible and still get everything in the right place, but one bad installation is one too many.I did a lot of thinking about this for my last payware project, as it seems a little tough getting the user to do the extra work activating the scenery. In the future I'd like to see MS offer a simple installation process, letting me feed the installer a script saying what needs to go where, and what needs to change. The current process of activating scenery is a nuisance.Don't get me wrong, I would always use an installer, even my freeware stuff all uses an istaller now, it's just that I don't like to change ANY default sim file programmatically. Ah, piracy, can't live with it, can't live without it...I have always assumed that for every scenery I sell, there are probably just as many copies. I think that the only way to 'protect' your work is to offer support, follow-ups and maybe even the odd bonus so that it is a lot easier to get people to part with their money.My thinking is this: most people are honest, some aren't, why worry?My scenery is cheap enough, people who steal it are not going to pay for it even if it was half the price. On the other hand, there are a few 'features' built in to make it a real nuisance for these people when it comes to upgrading.

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Sounds like we're on the same page. Were I to manipulate the scenery.cfg file it'd have to be with absolute acceptance of the user and after the creation of a backup file that the user could easily restore. I'm still mixed on that one. My main problem, if I decide to offer it, is what type of program to use to script the changes. I could easily do it in VB but it would require the user have VB runtimes and possibly the scripting dll installed. That adds to the complication. Think I'd lean to the DOS program as I mentioned above simply because it runs on its own regardless of the OS. Believe it or not I still occasionally maintain DOS Clipper code where I work and it's speed, simplicity, and toughness really make me get an attitude when some VB app balks at installation. I have considerable experience parsing and manipulating text files so I'm really not worried about that task. I also know there's enough complexity in it that no installer program is going to handle the logic of going through the scenery.cfg and deciding how to prioritize scenery areas in amongst what's already there. There's some true AI in that task. Art

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Hi Art,For the Netherlands 2000 Scenery (I am a member of that team), we indeed wrote the installer ourself in VB6. A backup is made of the scenery.cfg file before we add our scenery.I have never heard people complaining about the installer (or uninstaller) not working correctly. So it seems to be working all fine. I think in general the users like that the installer does the entire job for them (the advanced users can do it themself of course, but for most normal users it is getting to complex already).

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Arno, so I assume the total install then also had to include the VB6 runtimes and more than likely the scripting .dll. After the nightmare I had distributing the runtimes with my autogen program, I'm a bit leery about that. What installer program did you use for the total distribution? I'm playing lately with Inno Setup and it seems to work well.By the way, welcome back. You were on vacation right?Art

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Hi Art,>Arno, so I assume the total install then also had to include>the VB6 runtimes and more than likely the scripting .dll. >After the nightmare I had distributing the runtimes with my>autogen program, I'm a bit leery about that.What installer>program did you use for the total distribution? I'm playing>lately with Inno Setup and it seems to work well.We used just a self-extracting zip file for that. It places the installer EXE, the required DLL files and the CAB files in a temp folder. After the install is finished this is all removed again of course.For my own tools I also use Inno Setup indeed, I find it very nice. I have also heard of other people who have added scripts there to alter the scenery.cfg file. So that might also be a good option.>By the way, welcome back. You were on vacation right?Yes I was, had a great time.

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