Details: EQC Launchpad

Thursday, August 18, 2011

EQC Launchpad is a project I started in 2009, while waiting for the long needed return to Classic Era EverQuest that the EQClassic project hoped to produce. Excited and impatient, I wanted to help like many others. Though unlike many others in that community, I had at least some skills towards doing so, even if it was just some minor C++ ability. Due to my low level of skill, I saw that I would easily get overwhelmed at the scope of the server project had I offered and accepted an invite to join.

Still I wanted to contribute, and after tinkering around with my old EQTrilogy discs, I ran the patcher. Something that wouldn't be needed once the EQClassic project was finished, as for one if it did work, it would just update the classic EQ files to modern expansions, and even if it could be pointed elsewhere, the files it would download would be illegal to distribute. The patcher, while probably easily forgettable by most, was still part of the "Classic EQ" experience. I then realized I could create a new one that looks exactly like it, seemingly functions exactly the same, and can have it just download a handful of legal and very needed files that will help users install classic EQ and join the server more easily.

An example file being the little "eqhost.txt" file. Its a very important file for any EQ server emulators, as without one pointing to the emulators server, a user can't play there. I don't understand how editing/creating a new eqhost file could be difficult, but saw people often get intimidated by having to dig into their EQ directory to change something like that, or the eqclient.ini. Also even though an update to the client would never be released, server side things get changed all the time so patch news will still happen. So a new eqnews.txt file is added to the list. While arguably not classic, EQWindows was often used by people during the classic era, me one of them, and as modern MMOs all now adopt playing in a window and being able to alt tab is a necessity. That's another 3 files added to the list. These 5 files were enough to me, to decide making the program was worth it.

Now the question was, was my skill up to it? I figured I could learn more as I go and if I got stuck at some point and had to give up, oh well. It's just a hobby and I'll have fun either way. I started work right away, and wow. While I still didn't consider my skills very good, I had underestimated how much I've learned from past C++ projects, as coding the project went relatively easy. I got the program working, connecting to a remote server, downloading a file/command list, checking its local files against that list to see if it need to download any new files, and more. I even added extra unplanned features like an editor window interface for the eqclient.ini, a file scan that checks all the important game client files for corruption and patches them from the users EQTrilogy disc if needed. An IRC chat window, and Login/World server status indicators. As its still unreleased, there are a couple other features I've added but won't go into as they may not be in the final version.

The program shaped up quite well, and even became adopted/endorsed by the EQClassic team of which I eventually joined. Shortly after that though, advancement of my project slowed as there wasn't much left to do on it, and EQClassic itself still had no ETA in sight. I've worked on it very little since the first couple months when I hammered out the bulk of the program. It has little use in the current testing phase, but will have more use at a later time.

Look forward to this and the EQClassic project in the coming years!