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Exit: Windows 7

7 ways Sword of Moonlight has changed

August 30th, 2014 by Holy at

This micro-release includes a complete makeover in terms of how Sword of Moonlight interacts with the Windows desktop. Windows 7 introduced a number of new taskbar related features that impose restrictions on how applications behave. It took me so long to notice that this is a problem for SOM because these new features are disabled for programs that are not stored on a local disk volume.

The immediate problems stemming from this were addressed by a patch that was made to the previous release. Now I am following up with a full treatment for post-Vista versions of Windows. That said the changes apply to all supported versions of Windows. I had not intended to do so until tests I ran on XP earlier today showed that this is necessary. Anyway, it’s probably for the best.

In the beginning of this release my goal was to decide how to best group the various tools on the taskbar, and how to establish a program that can be “pinned” to the taskbar. Pinning is absolutely essential in Windows 8 since it doesn’t possess a Start menu, although this is rumored to be changing in the next iteration, but one wonders even if it does, will the menu be backported to 8?

I also looked into adding an extended menu to the launcher early on; this is a feature wherein Windows 7 it’s possible to right-click icons in the taskbar and Start menu in order to open a menu that can be customized to a degree. Indeed a lot of the problems arise from an apparent inability to customize the built-in section of this menu.

But I didn’t stop there. I’ve taken the opportunity to completely rethink and rebrand the superficial experience, and in the process I’ve been able to streamline numerous aspects of the initiation process in ways that I find extraordinarily pleasing. By rebrand I mean to say that I put a lot of work into the icons, and even changed some of them, including the shortcut titles that accompany them and the product descriptions embedded in the programs files (I didn’t change any of FromSoftware’s product information, although it could probably stand to be changed. In any case it’s never visible.)

The splash screen is now part of the “pinnable” application. It had to be in order to generate a thumbnail for the Windows 7 taskbar. It also appears if you know how to direct the launcher to tools other than SOM_MAIN. Speaking of which, SOM_MAIN’s icon has been changed to look like the other tools. This is because it is part of a group including all of the original tools. Unless Windows is configured to not group applications, their icons are all merged into one, so the purpose of this change is both to distinguish it as part of this group, and to make the transition to SOM_EDIT’s icon more natural. Plus SOM_MAIN cannot be pinned, so it is no longer the entry point into Sword of Moonlight.

That honor of course goes to the launcher. Its shortcut title and product description have been changed to “Moonlight Sword” along with the setup program, whose new title/description is “Dragon Sword”. Together these two programs represent Sword of Moonlight in two phases taken from the in-game experience with the sword. The icons are identical except for the setup/update program’s icon is grey, indicating that the program is being reconfigured, or requires attendance. The new launcher taskbar icon has all of the functions of the system-tray icon. Which is important because Windows 7 changes the system-tray policies so that the average user may never discover its icons.

Finally the setup process has been greatly improved by having it run Moonlight Sword for the first time after the second batch file finishes. I didn’t think this would make such a difference but it really does. You get to see the cool ASCII art displaying the versions that is normally only seen if ran from a command-line, and you are prompted to setup the language options and then to update the various environment components for the first time before beginning your first session proper.

This guarantees that the user sees everything in action at least once before giving up on the process entirely without asking for help, and it feels more natural I think to perform the first round of updates on the back of installation versus being interrupted when you go to run the program for the very first time. PlayStation 3 games work the latter way, but it always feels anticlimactic when they do I think!

On top of this there are now operation instructions built into SOM_MAIN just in case over eager users stumble into the TOOL folder looking for some action.

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