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May 24, 2012

DayZ Launcher and Updater

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE 23rd July 2012: Use DayZ Commander instead, it's fast, has all the features I wanted to put in the "plus" version and looks impressively slick.  I will leave my launcher below for posterity, but it won't be updated and doesn't include features like automatic beta patching.

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UPDATE June 14th, 2012: The DayZ team have thrown their weight behind six-updater, which you can get from the official DayZ site here.  I will keep my launcher up to date and patch any problems and I still firmly believe it's a better/simpler launcher if you just want to play DayZ, but as the top result for "dayz launcher", I felt a responsibility to state the official position.

Really enjoying DayZ at the moment and the promise of what is to come for this alpha mod, however installing can be a pain for the less tech-savvy and none of the automatic installers include the option to check for updates, download and then launch, so I've made my own.


Instructions:

  1. If you haven't ever launched Arma2 on it's own, do that first (it needs to create some files)
  2. (optional) Install the latest ArmA2 beta patch
  3. Download and install the launcher, this will then grab the mod and install it for you, then launch the game
  4. Whenever you want to play DayZ, just launch from the icon on your desktop

Adding shortcut to Steam:

Steam is "helpful" in that when you add a shortcut to it, it tries to resolve the final destination of the shortcut and doesn't actually add the shortcut itself.  Whilst this isn't an issue normally, with the way this launcher installs, it won't then automatically check for updates to itself.  Additionally, when a self-update is installed (by clicking the desktop shortcut), Steam will not go to the newest version, so you will need to delete the shortcut from Steam and re-add.  There's no easy way to get around this, it's just a combination of Steam doing odd things and Microsoft's online install system.

The launcher does the following:
  • Automatically find your Arma2 install (if it can)
  • Check for mod files to be downloaded (from the official CDN -  http://cdn.armafiles.info/)
    • Gets the list from the CDN, so if more files are added an update won't be required
    • Saves the last modified date for the files so can very quickly check if any file needs updating
    • If a new or updated file is found, it will download it, extract it and delete the original
  • Once all up to date will launch Arma with the correct switches.
The idea is that you can use the shortcut this adds to your desktop to launch DayZ every time and it will automatically get the latest version, if needed, and then launch the game.  From my quick testing, the other launchers required input, which was what I was trying to avoid.  The only time you'll have to do anything is if it can't find your Arma install, and this will only happen if Arma wasn't installed correctly.


The app is currently set to check for updates of itself on every launch, I will take this down to, at most, weekly when it's been proven in the field for a while.  As an initial release, it makes sense that it can grab any fixes ASAP.  This is not related to the updating of DayZ itself, that will always happen on every launch.

Update: Now supports the Arma Beta. If you have it installed it will default to using that, to run without beta, either delete or rename the beta folder.