Sony Online Entertainment has announced the Station Launcher is officially out of beta. The team has been listening to players' feedback since last year's Fan Faire (which makes it somewhat of an anniversary, since the ZAM team is currently at this year's Fan Faire), and the new launcher includes all sorts of updates requested by fans.
First off, Station Launcher 1.1.0 supports Station Voice, which allows you to talk to your friends whether they're playing a game or not. There's a new download system for faster game updates, as well as a new menu layout and other UI improvements. Also, you can now run the launcher without administrative privileges.
To get the latest version of the Station Launcher, you can run this update installer. The announcement, which includes the full list of changes, can be found below.
This announcement marks an important milestone for Station Launcher. After months of community feedback, prioritization, trials, some errors (of course), and a lot of hard work and diligence by teams across all of SOE to deliver a release update whose performance is so improved, that we can finally tell you...
Station Launcher is officially out of beta!
Since we last shared our vision of what Station Launcher could be at last year’s Fan Faire, we began listening to your feedback and it’s been a long road traveled to get to this point...
- You asked for a better (and free) way to use voice chat to communicate with guild mates. We’ve at last delivered on the promise of Station Voice to enable you to communicate with others, whether they’re in a game or outside of it.
- You asked for better performance to get game updates – you were tired of endless patch updates and content downloads that took forever. We are now using a new content distribution network which now enables updates at download speeds up to 4 times faster than ever before, and up to 10 times faster than the old launch pad clients. You will get into your games faster.
- You wanted to be able to run Station Launcher without administrative privileges so that you can let your kids use your machine to play Station games.
- New players told us that our UI and menu systems were too confusing to get stuff done. We’ve simplified the menus so all players can find and modify preferences and settings more easily, quickly download new games and spend more time playing games.
The past nine months of release updates have allowed us to get closer to our objectives: to make Station Launcher a launch pad that makes it easy for our players to manage their Station games experience, to enable players to easily communicate with their friends, and everything just works when you use it.
Sometimes our updates didn’t work right the first time, but you were diligent in telling us about it. And we’d work to get it right. We think we’re getting closer to delivering that “right” experience, but we’re not about to stop. As always, please keep talking to us and leave your constructive feedback in the forums. It’s the only way we will continue to improve and evolve Station.
To get this version of Station Launcher, you will need to run the update installer located at http://launcher.station.sony.com/update/StationLauncher_setup.exe. It will update your existing shortcuts and preserve your current settings and preferences.
Below is a list of the changes that are available in Station Launcher 1.1.0. Enjoy!
Support for Station Voice
- One can join as a character from one of the games or their Station Handle.
- Guild and Guild Officer channels are supported for characters that have such membership.
- One can create and join a voice channel independent from the games by selecting their Station Handle; others may join this channel from Station Launcher as well.
- In EverQuest II, one can join a user channel by typing the name of the channel in the "Channel Name" field of the Voice dialog. This is equivalent to the in-game slash command: /join voice channelName. If a channel with that name exists, the customer will be joined to that channel. If it does not exist, it will be created.
- Channel participants are displayed in the Voice dialog. One can manage the settings for each participant with the right-mouse menu.
New download mechanism for faster games updates
- All updates are served via content distribution system that caches files regionally. Updates should be approximately 4 times faster than previous versions of Station Launcher and 8-10 times faster than LaunchPad.
- Station Launcher now supports the ability to have multiple versions published, enumerated on the "Change version" menu item on the "Help" menu.
- The application will open the Update Page to display information while an update is being performed, displaying release notes.
- All updates now use standard web ports to improve connectivity through firewalls and proxy configurations (account login and game use still require UDP ports to be opened).
- Games now default to the "Installed Games" folder, allowing them to be updated separately by another (future) mechanism.
Administrator privileges are no longer required
- All updateable components for the application are saved in a location that can be updated without Administrator privileges.
- All games are installed in a location that can be updated without Administrator privileges.
- No information is written to the Windows Registry as part of the normal operation of the application.
- The operation of the application has been verified to work in Windows Vista with User Account Control (UAC) enabled.
New menu layout
- There is now a single menu that is consistent between both Games and Friends Panels.
- All of the account menu items are now consolidated under a single "Account Info..." item under the "Station" Menu.
- "Enter Activation Code..." is now under the "Games" menu.
- Installed games are now listed on the "Games" menu for quick access to the Game Detail screen.
- One can access the game-specific preferences from the "Games" menu when on the Game Detail screen.
- One can start a chat or other Friends feature from either the Games or Friends panels.
- The log is now accessible from the "Help" menu (as well as its original location on the Preferences dialog).
Streamlined game install flow
- Certain information is set to a default and left to be adjusted later in the Preferences dialog.
- "Automatically keep my game up to date" is now ON by default.
- Optional content is only accessible from Preferences.
- Game shortcuts are no longer part of the installation flow; they can be created from the Game Preferences screen.
Other UI improvements
- The download progress message is focused on bytes remaining and observed bit rate.
- "Run Full Scan" (replacing "Delete Scan Cache") on the Game Preferences screen allows one to perform a full scan and update of game assets.
- Many of the Preferences categories have been condensed and simplified.
- The Install Location screen uses a new dialog to scan for installed game assets.
- The custom "Browse" dialog has been changed to a standard Windows dialog to select (or change) an install location.
- The application no longer uses LaunchPad.exe to update its assets...one less hole in the firewall configuration
- The mini update screen is displayed only when needed and may now be moved on the screen.
- One should not get stuck in the "endless processing loop" when set to "Automatically Log in."
- Game shortcuts may now be created at anytime from the Game Preferences screen; they will be placed on the desktop.