Saturday, August 27, 2005

Web-Fu for Freelancer fans

When I was Admin at a Freelancer server an excuse often used for having an incorrect mod installed on an online game was "Mod Manager didn't uninstall it properly." Which may have been true (although no acceptable excuse). Freelancer Mod Manager whilst being the standard for installing Freelancer mods is not a foolproof method of switching between mods or switching between a modified and unmodified game. By far the best way is to arrange different Freelancer files, each containing different Freelancer mods. This way you will never be running a different version of Freelancer than the one you think you are. Here's how you do it.

You will need space available for these installs. As Freelancer including Nomad's Revenge (a large mod) itself is just under a single Gig this shouldn't be a major issue. If space is an issue however, check the size of the modded files you need to include before you go any further. You will also need a basic understanding of how your PC works and the original CD.

First, let's do a clean version of the game and a back-up. Go to your Freelancer install folder. On default:

"c:\program files\microsoft games\freelancer\"

right - click on the freelancer folder and delete it making sure you have backed up any saved games you wish to keep. This only applies to Single Player games. All the information about your multi-player files is stored on the server(s) you visit. Make certain you have a permanent record of your Account ID which is the number the server uses to recognise you. You will need to re-enter this manually when you connect to the global server after a re-install. Find this in your start menu. Go to START, ALL PROGRAMS, MICROSOFT GAMES, FREELANCER, EXAMINE MY ACCOUNT ID for this information. Then empty the recycle bin. Then re-install the game to the same location. Once installed reboot your PC. Now, go back to:

"c:\program files\microsoft games\"

Where you will find this new version of Freelancer. Make a copy of it, that is right click, select COPY then right click in the open window (away from the original Freelancer folder) and PASTE it into the window. This will be called "Copy of Freelancer" and is your FL back up (so leave it alone - lol). Whenever you need a clean version of FL just copy "copy of freelancer" into the same window, renaming the file to "Freelancer" after deleting (and emptying the recycle bin) the FL folder you want to replace.

Now install the mod you want to install. This is a massively variable section and depends alot on the mechanics of each individual mod. I will assume you are able to follow the read - me files for each of these mods and can follow the install process. If not, don't be afraid to ask me for help. Once you have installed the mod, rename the Freelancer file to reflect that - i.e. "FL Nomad's Revenge" or "FL Asgard" or whatever. Make a shortcut on your desktop (go into the Freelancer mod folder you have just created, then into the "EXE" folder, locate the "Freelancer.exe" file, then right-click and select Create Shortcut. Then simply drag it onto your desktop) and be sure to rename it to reflect the mod. Now simply rinse (reboot) and repeat for each different server with a mod you play on. Don't forget to leave a clean version of Freelancer apart from your back-up so that you can still play on vanilla servers or servers with server-side only mods. It's also a good idea to reboot your PC each time you switch mod versions while playing.

Note: This (or variations of it) will NOT work with all games, although it will with some. It's included here because part of the richness of Freelancer is contained within the vast variety of mods available for it and the many online communities, but playing the wrong one in the wrong place will get you banned. This is a very simple way to keep your online experience hassle free. Well, at least from being accused of being a cheat when you've made a genuine mistake with mod manager. I can only protect you from the online pirates for a suitable fee.

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