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Flash collection (Flashpoint) import guide


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This is a guide on how to import the Flashpoint flash games collection into Launchbox the proper way - each game is listed with image and metadata, and they are working with use of the required redire

Worked perfectly. Many thanks mate. Now i will have to make a Flash platform video  

So I just read over the Flashpoint update post that I missed from back in May and unfortunately it mentions that on the next update of their launcher (which may or may not be the next update itself) t

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27 minutes ago, SiriusVI said:

I would very much like in somehow include flashpoint into my Launchbox collection. Let's hope that it'll be possible some day.

All games in Flashpoint are launched using various programs with command line interfaces. Once the version with their new redirector comes out, so I can see if they make major changes to the launch process, I may consider making a plugin like the ScummVM importer plugin that basically just generates a ton of batch files that run the games with the correct commands and also grabs all of the corresponding paths for media.

It shouldn't be too bad in theory.

The only downside is no pause screen support since the batch will end immediately, but that isnt a huge deal and there isnt really another way (other than a custom executable instead) since multiple exes need to run for Flashpoint to work.

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5 hours ago, SiriusVI said:

I was imagining something like this, although I have no idea how difficult that might be.

Making an external program to parse the Flashpoint library shouldn't be too bad (again, assuming it doesn't change too much in the next release), so at the very least it can just be a third party app. Making it an actual plugin could be more challenging depending on how those are written, I will have to look into it. Hopping it is at least somewhat intuitive.

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1 hour ago, Flitty said:

will it be possible to only add say 10-20 games do you think? or would i be stuck with thousands of flash games in launchbox

There's several ways to go about that and I can't be sure of what the best is until I look at the new versions database when it comes out but yes that shouldn't be an issue.

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So I finally finished downloading of this beast. Took over aweek, due to poor connection speed. I have tried it out and it's really extensive. It has its own system of playlists and categries and I don't know much of an effort it would be to convert it into a setup that could be usable by Launchbox.

The Launchbox Platform for these games would be "Web Browser" and then we'd have to convert the playlists to Launchbox playlists.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 5/15/2020 at 4:05 AM, SiriusVI said:

@oblivioncth The new version of Flashpoint is out 😄

Don't worry, I've been following it closely. I haven't had access to my LB machine for a bit and haven't actually finished the torrent yet because of slow wifi were it is and its also been sleeping most of the time (long story, Covid related, blah blah blah). I am curious to see what the next status update says because I'm not totally sure they've fully moved to their new database format yet but I am going to take a look at 8.0 when I can and also what you can do with LB plugins to see which route is the best to take (plugin vs external app). My priority is to try and keep pause functionality working, but it will comedown to how the FP games are handled across the board. Since there are various engines behind each game ill either need the user to set up multiple emulators or have each game use a overriden launch command.

May take me a bit but I would every much like to have flashpoint games work from launchbox so I'm definitely going to test the waters.

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I took a glance at the data files and they are still mostly the same as the xml files that LB uses. This does make me a little worried that they will still change them significantly in the future, but perhaps there will still be a significant amount of time before this.

Luckily this means that ultimately all that should need to be done is some mild processing of the Flashpoint xmls to remove any fields that LB doesn't use (or potentially rename them to the closest thing LB has) and add anything missing that LB needs and hopefully they can just be added directly to LB the same way that eXoDOS is.

I will definitely start playing with that when I can get around to it.

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On 5/19/2020 at 7:31 AM, SiriusVI said:

Sounds great. But I understand your concern. It would be a shame to put too much work into this just to find out that a few updates down the line, we can't make use of your hard work.

Yea, it would be unfortunate, though since in it's current state at least it doesn't seem it will take too much effort, I'm going to see what I can do. One annoyance is that FP names its media files by Game ID (which I actually like better; its straightforward and deterministic), whereas LB uses the game's title. While this is fine for simple games, ones with certain symbols or characters from other languages are handled differently and it may be a pain to make sure all cases are covered. Won't know for sure until I run my first attempt at having the conversion performed pragmatically and then see how many games are missing their images due to unexpected naming convention differences.

First impressions are good. I was able to alter a random flash game a bit and use some simple batch files to start/end Flashpoint's supportive programs, like its redirector, to get it into Launchbox with its main picture and so that it can successfully be started by just clicking on the game in LB (instead of having to also have the Flashpoint.exe running first or something, like previous methods other forum users have used). I will probably end up using a C++ application to handle these tasks instead of a batch file in the final product to keep things silent and clean.

Flashpoint.thumb.PNG.b3caea3bd7df658b02b3c211f2920cee.PNGThe batch files run automatically on upon starting and closing the game and do not launch the game itself. This way the LB/BB pause functionality should still work correctly.

There may be some unexpected difficulty in getting the other Platforms (i.e. web Unity) to work, but for no I see no reason to believe so.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just wanted to give an update:

Due to various situations that are too involved to explain, I only have access to my machine with LB and Flashpoint for some days and not others. Currently I've been away from it for some time, but I am still continuing to work on an importer and will resume doing so every time I'm back where the machine is. I've gotten a lot more games in using the start of an automatic process and they all seem fine. I last finished getting the necessary binaries on the machine to start writing the C++/Qt based replacement launcher (that will be used in-place of Flashpoint.exe), as it will ultimately be easier to do it on the machine itself instead of on my laptop. 

Can't exactly say how long it will take but so far I have seen no reason that this can't be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time and result in a process that's fairly streamlined for the user. Once things seem to be working for the most part I'll upload a beta release (I'm sure there will be bugs) and will fix any issues that people report that I personally don't run into. There are quite likely to be a few given how many games are in the Flashpoint collection that use various combinations of different software tools to make them work.

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  • 3 weeks later...
4 hours ago, Micral35 said:

Would be very interested. Flaspont is an interesting collection!

What is the status of the project? 

42/5000
 
 
 
I'm currently downloading version 8
 

The C++ program that acts as a command line interface for Flashpoint is nearly done. Then I just have to convert my MATLAB scripts into another application that takes care of the conversion/import process. So maybe a bit less than half way?

Sorry it's taking so long but like I said before I can only work on it a small amount of the time.

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So I just read over the Flashpoint update post that I missed from back in May and unfortunately it mentions that on the next update of their launcher (which may or may not be the next update itself) they will be moving to using an sqlite database instead of the Launchbox based XMLs. This doesn't make importing the collection impossible, but does make it more complex (the degree of which will depend on how their new database is set up) as I will have to parse the database file and create new Platform XMLs from scratch for Launchbox instead of being able to just modify the existing ones.

Luckily some aspects of the import tool, like its UI, and the command-line helper application are still fixed in function and will not need to be modified due to this particular change in FP, so I will continue working on those aspects; however, if this new launcher version is not released by the time I have everything else finished, I may pause and hold off on creating the FP data interpreter portion of the conversion tool until it is released since they are likely to keep using that format for some time and it makes no sense for me to setup everything with the current XML scheme only to have to completely throw it all out as soon as FP is updated, which for all I know could happen a few days after I'd release this tool.

The command-line utility is basically done at this point other than some more extensive testing to cover all use cases. I get held up for a while because of a bizarre error with a library I'm using that made no sense because it turned out the compiler was incorrectly not display a warning that specified the exact issue as it should have been and so all that I was seeing was a secondary error caused by the first issue that seemed completely unrelated. It also didn't help that a particular piece of documentation for the library didn't explicit mention why you couldn't do what I was trying to do and only vaguely implied it in another location.

I'm about to start on the import tool and like I said I'll focus on the general UI and initialization/clean-up of the import process first and leave the core conversion procedure for when FP updates.

I plan on making it so that you can use the tool to do a fresh import or update your collection within LB to match the latest FP version, allow you to select exactly which Platforms/Playlists you want imported, and other than those selections and some path input have the entire process be automated. 

Exactly what they do with their new database format is a bit of a whammy here but I'm still fairly confident this should all work out in the end.

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