Direct Launcher

I don’t like game launchers. These are the multiple layers of windows that I have to look at and interact with in order to get into a game. Splash screens, credentials screens, character selection screens, loading screens, etc. It’s the same sort of stupidity as 10 minutes of movie credits, or the advertising mania that we’re gripped by today.

As an example, consider ARMA 3. As much as I enjoy the gameplay, their launcher is atrocious.

  1. Double click the ARMA 3 icon
  2. Wait for Steam to fire up and log in
  3. Get the ARMA 3 launcher
  4. Press the PLAY button
  5. Wait for ARMA 3 to appear
  6. Press the PLAY button
  7. Press the MULTIPLAYER button
  8. Wait for the server list to populate
  9. Double click my usual server

That’s insane. I want a shortcut on my desktop for the server I go to. I would double click that and go straight to the server. All that other stuff has to happen behind the scenes, but ultimately all I want is my desktop staring me in the face, perhaps with a small progress bar until the game is ready to show me entering the server of my choice.

The number of steps is one thing. The co-opting of my screen is another. I really don’t want the game publisher’s crap on my screen while I’m waiting. I’d rather be looking at my desktop or a browser window while I wait for the massive machinery to grind into action behind the scenes.

I know that you guys are extremely tight on development time, but this is the sort of thing that is fairly impossible if the software isn’t designed for it. Don’t fall in love with your ability to push artwork in the face of a player. Provide the service of getting to a character spot on one of your game servers. If I have three characters on the American server, let me have three icons on my desktop so that I can start with whichever one I want.

Keep the multi-step UI for people who are going to create new characters or who like to just start The Game instead of jumping into a character, but if you can manage it, please give me the ability to double click a character icon and get a streamlined experience to reach that character.


Concerning Arma 3. Not streamlined but cuts most steps from your list.

I was researching this yesterday for another game.

Specifically, I was researching how to connect to a “regional” IP via DNS for load balancing, and having protection from Denial of Service attacks.

I came up with two solutions. The first was to have the user to select a regional server manually. The second was to use Anycast, which allows one domain name to be mapped to multiple servers.

My research was for a persistent MMO, but I’m sorta curious about how IB will handle load balancing and DOS mitigation.

Perhaps you could start a thread to discuss that.

so basically all you want is an .exe that takes -u “username” -p “password” -s “server” -c “character” That sounds pretty damn doable seeing how all of these parameters are already processed by the launcher one way or another.

That’s not gonna happen. No matter what, we have to do authentication and patching, at the very least. The rest can be hidden or have shortcuts, but that’s the minimum we can do.

The current launcher has the following steps:

    1. Double-click I-Novae launcher
    1. Wait for launcher to verify version / patch itself ( you have nothing to do here, just wait a sec… )
    1. Login screen: enter your credentials, click Login button ( this step is only shows up if you’re not logged in yet )
    1. Launcher screen: download & patch game, see game news, select a server to play on, check your account, report a bug etc… ( this step can be as short or as long as you want it to be. The launcher remembers your last log in, so you can just press the launch button if you want to, and that’s it )
  • 5.Game launcher: select in-game parameters ( graphics options, key bindings etc… ) then press launch: this step is only here temporarily because we currently have no in-game menu.

At the moment the minimum steps are 1, 4 and 5 ( assuming you’re already logged in and don’t want to change any setting ).

Once we have in game menus, the minimum steps will be 1 and 4.


I don’t mind the prospect of a launcher so long as the fully-released steam version downloads any updates without needing to load up the launcher first to check for them.

Having the game only update when I’m trying to play and needing to wait would be immensely frustrating seeing that auto-updates through the steam client are designed to prevent wasting my time like that.

Still, that’s a couple years off. :wink:

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Agreed, and it annoys me to no end when there are games on Steam that still do this. The fuck is the point, seriously?

To reduce your dependency on Steam.

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Which would make sense if you’d launched it outside of Steam or didn’t have Steam. If you do have Steam and have it running, you could just have it supply the update instead and skip that process when you launch the game

I’ve on more than one occasion abandoned a gaming session with a game because I had to wait for a multi-gigabyte patch when it could have easily been updated over Steam at any other time.


Would having two ways to update the game cause a lot of problems (As in, through steam and through the launcher)?

Maybe the patching part of the launcher could run as as a deamon, and check every hour or so for patches, this way one wouldn’t have to wait to play the game. Or make the launcher minifiable in the system tray of the windows task bar.

Edit: Minified to system tray launcher, plus right click contextmenu with server list would satisfy OPs demands and wouldn’t change much technically (assuming the minified launcher also has an option to autostart on system start).

As I understand it publishing an update through steam is a hassle and even for quick patches developers have to jump through hoops.

ED updates through Steam just fine, it also updates through the launcher if you are not using Steam. It’s possible for Steam to patch a game with a launcher, it just depends on the developers as they need to upload a version to Steam to be patched. Little more work for the developer, but possible and worth it imo.



Allow for input of all the parameters the launcher takes trough .exe startup parameters. Like most other games.

Likes this …
maybe even start launcher hidden: -h

If anything is omitted … the launcher stops at whatever step was omitted.

If anyone doesn’t like the launcher he can put those parameters in either in a shortcut or trough steam directly (yes there’s a field for that) and won’t see the launche ever again.

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The game is just as patchable through Steam as it is through our launcher. We can optionally have the launcher run in the background and do background patching as well - the whole point of the launcher is to give us control and flexibility. The launcher/game will be capable of caching credentials if you so desire so that you aren’t required to constantly sign in. I don’t know how many games do this but my general impression is they do it in a way that doesn’t work very well. The reason we’ve spent all of the last 2 months on this stuff is we’re building the foundation for what we believe will be a better experience in the long run.


Please make it possible that I launch the launcher with commandline options and automate every thing else.
The Login will have to ask for a password - that’s fine.
But everything else should be triggered by the command line options and don’t ask for my input nor steal the focus of my browser nor force fullscreen - until the point were the game connects to the server.

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No, you can’t skip the launcher. The launcher does authentication, which the game cannot do. This is not an optionnal step.


This is about the user experience, not about what happens in the process of getting into the server. As an engineer, sure, let’s talk about authentication protocols and download schemes, minimum patch mechanisms and so forth. As a player, I don’t care. I want to double click an icon and get into the game. You need a password from me. So ask for one. Immediately. You need to do background tasks before you can put me into the game. Fine. Put an icon on the notification area of my task bar that lets me know you’re doing that. If I’m curious, I can interact with that icon to get a window on my screen that shows me whatever you care to show me about the download process. This is the Wndows Update approach and I’ve used it in my own software. I think it works well.

The reason I encourage you to use the notification area is that it’s an established channel of communication between software and users when background tasks are in progress. And authentication and downloading that takes longer than a few seconds falls into that category.

The complication comes in the case where there is an appreciable pause in the player experience because of background stuff. Players are not going to want the game to suddenly grab focus from whatever they’re doing, so that notification area would be used to show a bubble saying that the game is ready to go. That bubble would stay up until the user says “Never mind” or “Let’s play”. Then the game full screen window pops up and the player is in his character. Ideally, this happens as instantaneously as possible.

If there is no appreciable pause between entering password and the full screen window appearing, then there’s no need to prompt the user to continue. The notification bubbles can pop up “1/2 Authenticating…”, “Authenticated”, “2/2 Updating…”, “Updated” - followed by the full screen window.

“Appreciable pause” is probably something around 5-7 seconds, tops. Imagine starting a game, then count seconds off. I started to wonder I did something wrong after about 7 seconds.

Command line options would underpin such a system, but I want the ability to push a button on the normal game interface that shoves a shortcut onto my desktop. There’s no reason that a gamer should be fiddling with shortcuts to start a game in an intuitive fashion. And it would be nice if the game put the character portrait (or the ship icon or whatever) on that shortcut for faster identification.

Hide the launcher as much as possible. We don’t care about the background tasks. We want to play the game.

When I say ‘hide’, I don’t mean “Don’t do authentication or updating.” I mean “Don’t put windows in my face as if authentication and updating was something that I cared about.” I also don’t care about your memory allocation, numbers of objects loaded from disk, octaves in the geometry and a whole host of other metrics that are critical to the game’s operation. You don’t show me those things and I’m better off for it.


For the record, I have no problem with Launchers.