The first ever DirectX 10 game demo appeared on the ‘net on Tuesday. I found out about it Wednesday night, when I found some 20 new comments on my D3DX DLL download page. Turns out the site had over 12,000 unique visitors on Wednesday, an order of magnitude above the usual daily few 747s-full.
So that’s a lot of folks unable to run the latest big PC game (it’s „Lost Planet: Extreme Condition”, incidentally) because they’re missing the latest D3DX DLL. Did Capcom actually test on any PCs besides their latest-DirectX-SDK-having dev. machines?
Developers, it’s pretty trivial to create a basic DirectX „redist” and include it in your installer. I know, you’re under enough pressure to ship the game on time as it is. But I added DirectX setup to an NSIS install script at work just recently, and it took minutes to get it working. If you’re bothered about space, you can assume DirectX 9.0c, and just install the incarnation of D3DX that you built your game against. In this configuration, it’ll add a few MB to your installer, which is nothing when your h0t game demo is pushing 500MB anyway. Make sure your installer runs dxsetup with the /silent option, so the user doesn’t get a chance to say „Hey, I’ve already got DirectX!” and cancel it, which I suspect may be the problem in many cases.
The more gamers have to hunt for DLLs to get their new games running, the more of them are going to jump ship for the plug’n’play ease of the consoles. You can debate the ethics of updating DirectX „by stealth” if you like, but in reality all it’s going to do is copy a DLL or two that the user is bound to need anyway. The core components (D3D9.DLL et al) haven’t been updated since DirectX 9.0c – so if this is already installed (likely), it doesn’t even require a reboot. We’re long past the murky days when installing a new DirectX (like, say, DirectX THREE) could actually break stuff.
Lost Planet is significant in PC games land, since it’s the first commercial game demo to use DirectX 10 on Windows Vista, and the first chance for Geforce 8800 owners to give their pricey early-adopter toys a proper run. In honour of the moment, I downloaded the Lost Planet demo (the DX9 version) and had a go. Sadly, my ageing single core processor and sixth generation graphics card couldn’t really deliver the immersive experience I believe the designers intended. There sure is a lot of snow, though.