This is a guest post from Aaron Jacobs, one of the masterminds behind the essential SUMLauncher!
Hello! I’m Aaron Jacobs, the programmer for SUMLauncher, which is a tool designed to make management of an Overgrowth preorder as easy as possible. A few days ago we put out an update to SUMLauncher that we’ve been working on for a few months now.
I’ve wanted to get into games programming ever since I started playing around with Halo PC mods in middle school. Sometime around 2008, a friend of mine introduced me to Lugaru, and its then in-development sequel, Lugaru 2. The game that eventually became Overgrowth caught my attention with its open development process. After I began pursuing a computer science degree, I found myself wanting to contribute to the Overgrowth community. A programming project seemed like a natural choice.
Anton Riehl had developed a mod for the main menu that could be used to run community made maps, but using it required downloading and copying in files manually. I wrote a tool that would recursively download all the files and automatically set up Anton’s Menu Mod.
The Custom Map Auto Downloader was extremely simplistic in its design, but it was a good first project for me. It was satisfying to make a tool that people found useful, and I wanted to work on another project. I figured that a tool to automatically download and install updates to the Overgrowth alphas would be a good way to go. While I was working on the initial version of the program, Anton discussed ideas for a more comprehensive set of content tools with several other people (including prominent community member, Johannes). We decided to work together on this idea, now called the SUM OG Utilities (Settings, Updates, and Mods Overgrowth Utilities), which would start with version 1 of what is now called SUMLauncher.
SUMLauncher was also well received, though it had many bugs initially. The positive feedback I received was a huge motivation to work on it though, and I found myself dedicating a lot of free time to improving it. Through this process I gained valuable programming experience and found myself dissatisfied with the quality of my old code. For this reason I did a massive rewrite, which became SUMLauncher version 2. I continued iterating and updating SUMLauncher, working on responding to feedback from the Overgrowth community about changes to implement.
During this time Anton had been continually adding content to the Menu Mod. It began to grow quite large, and the flaws of the simple design of the Custom Map Auto Downloader were increasingly apparent. We decided to build a much more robust system to replace the Menu Mod, and I eagerly got to work implementing it, using an interface Johannes mocked up. The project proved to be more complex than I was anticipating, and once my college classes started up I had little time to work on it. Migrating all the content over to the new system was a bit of a daunting task, as each item had to be modified to fit the new system and manually added to our content database. Luckily, Anton had a vast knowledge of all the community content present in the Menu Mod, and was able to guide the conversion process as he, my brother Joshua, and I worked to prepare the new system.
At this point SUMLauncher is a fairly mature and robust tool for managing an Overgrowth installation, with many useful features for preorderers, including:
- Updating Overgrowth alphas
- Performing clean Overgrowth installations
- A graphical tool for modifying Overgrowth’s configuration file
- A Twitter-based news feed
- Clearing the cache and other game files
- Installing community content
- Cross-platform support
We have put significant time and thought into SUMLauncher, but there is always room to improve - we would love to hear your feedback! What changes or additions would you like to see in SUMLauncher?