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The Multiple Hak Pack Phenomenon

Author: 
Deva Bryson Winblood

Several patches ago Bioware released a feature that should have made disseminating hak packs for your modules a breeze. In fact the end result is that most module specific hak packs should have been around 2 to 3 MB in size. However, I am still seeing the multi-meg hak packs out there for modules. Most people say big deal, I have broadband. Well, it can be a big deal for reasons other than internet speed. I have an opinion that has formed that most of us downloading modules and content fall into the following categories:

A) I have broadband internet so, I download anything without concern for size.

B) I have a poor internet connection so, I do not download modules which require hak packs.

C) I have a poor internet connection so, I do not download modules which require hak packs but, I still download individual placeable, clothing, and item, and creature haks for my own personal usage. I might even take the hours it takes to download a new tileset if it looks really appealing. I will not however, wait hours to download a hak pack for a module.

I think this covers where each of us lie in one way or another. However, each ofthese groups of people may be missing out on some issues. The Class A people are wasting a large chunk of hard drive space unless they are actively deleting hak packs after playing modules. This too may not be an issue with them due to the size of hard drives today. They do not have to do this though and would achieve the same effect if module designers were taking advantage of the multiple hak pack feature. The class B people are missing out on a lot of fabulous things. They do not have to if they converted to a class C type approach and more module makers took advantage of the multiple hak pack feature then they too could play them. The class C people have already downloaded most of what they need for the modules without realizing it. What they lack is the module authors offering a multiple hak pack support. Some module authors may be offering this feature and the class C people are just seeing HAK PACK REQUIRED and turning away from that module without glancing at the insignificant size of the hak which may be 400K or less in some cases.

This editorial is written mainly to clarify the multiple hak pack method so, all people will hopefully begin implementing them for their modules. So, at this point I’ll take the time to explain how it works and what is nice about it. If you already know this then obviously you are not the intended audience for this editorial. Smile

With the availability of the multiple hak pack feature Bioware made it possible for a module author to essentially make a very small hak pack which is essentially an index that just tells what hak packs to use and combines their features in a module. What this means is if you have already downloaded Lisa’s Clothes, or the Swamp Tileset, or M.G. Skaggs Desert City, then you will never need to do so again. The index hak file will use any haks you have already downloaded. So, when it is looked at this way then why do we keep seeing huge hak packs for modules. I think I can answer this.

When Jeremy Greene and I released RTS – Harvest of Souls we used the multiple hak pack method and there were links to all the required hak packs on the main page of our module. The links were provided simply so, you could download just the hak packs that you did not already have. However, this seemed to intimidate people. They saw all the links and would not download it even if they were on broadband and if they normally do not care about size. Why? Because, it is inconvenient for someone with the speed to individually download the components. This is the fact even though they will only have to download a hak once. So, Jeremy and I combined all the files from the hak into a big RAR file (if you don’t have WinRAR or something similar get it). Essentially, instead of combining them into a big HAK which still seems traditional we just unzipped all the individual haks and then combined them into a single archive. Then people just had to unzip it into their HAK directory. This was essentially the same as if they had downloaded all those haks individually. The difference was it was convenient for them to only have to download one file. This DID appeal to a lot of people.

So, I have a few suggestions for module and large hak pack authors which can help get class C people downloading modules with hak packs and also reduce wasted disk space at the same time.

  • When you make a large hak pack do so, simply by compressing all the individual hak packs into a single archive and provide a small index hak with your module.
  • Offer in the documentation with your module a list of all haks used and links that can be used to download them. This will allow the class C people to determine which hak packs they already have and simply download the ones they do not.
  • Don’t put all the multiple hak links on the main download screen of your module. This seems to scare off people. Instead offer this information in the documentation.

To the Class C and Class B people I have this final message. If you can find modules made in the above method then try them out if you can afford the time. The extra content can make the modules come alive in new ways. For solo adventures it is almost crazy not to include skies and unlock the camera. It looks so, much better. This is not solely up to you though. If the module makers do not offer their hak in an accessible way then yes, it becomes foolish to download a 20+MB hak pack for a module you may or may not like.

Parting words: I do not refer to you as Class A, B, C, people with the intents of stereotyping or offending anyone. Doing this was simply an easier method for attempting to get my point across. I hope I have done this to some degree. For future reference I myself fall into the Class A category but, I do like the thought of as many people having access to my modules as possible and I do not like wasted hard drive space (of which I have 120GB). Thanks for taking the time to read this.

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