Using the NSIS Installer

The Basics

When you're done with your Deus Ex levels and you want to distribute them by posting your mod on an FTP or web site (or simply e-mail it to someone), you have several options.  If you're just sending it to a couple of friends, and they are comfortable with manually installing all of the elements (maps, texture package, .u packages, etc), you could just put everything in a .ZIP file and send it out.

However, if you're aiming for a wider distribution and want a more user-friendly install process, you can use a utility to create an "installer" program.  There are a number of commercial products, such as InstallShield, that let you do that, but there's also a completely free one called NSIS.  It stands for Nullsoft Scriptable Install System.  You may have heard of Nullsoft, since they also make the Winamp MP3 program.

NSIS allows you to compress all of your elements into a single .EXE file.  When the person that downloads your mod runs the .EXE file, an installation "wizard" appears and the installer will extract the files and copy them to the correct locations.  This does require a certain amount of work on your part.  To set everything up, you create a .NSI file, which is just a text file that sets everything up.  If you have the "MakeNSIS" utility installed, you then just right-click on your .NSI file in File Exporer and select "Compile NSI".

As you might guess, setting up the .NSI file is the hard part.  There's quite a bit you can do, so a full-blown tutorial is a bit outside of what I can cover here.  At some point, I may release a set of example files, however.

In the mean time, if you want to check it out, click on the link below.

Thanks to Brian McCafferty for pointing me to this cool utility.

You can download NSIS here.

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