Should Icefall come with an Installer/Setup program?

My previous games (like the Five Hundred card game) didn’t require any installation at all: it assumed you had DirectX7 (the game just failed if you didn’t), and all of the files it needed were in the same directory as the EXE itself. You just unzipped it to wherever you liked, and double clicked the EXE to play. To uninstall, you just delete the folder.

Icefall is a little bit more complicated. All of the game’s data is still a relative path from the EXE itself, but this time it needs a specific Direct3D9 library installed (one that doesn’t ship by default with the rest of DirectX, but that other games may have already installed). So I need to include the DX Installer.

The Microsoft DX installer is smart enough to not overwrite a newer version of the same library (and you can only include the needed library – I don’t have to include the full DX9 100mb installer!), so I don’t need to worry about that stuff, but the question is, should I include this as an ‘optional’ installer that the user can run if Icefall doesn’t run immediately, or would it be less confusing to just make a full install program that all users run, and call this as a part of it (I could throw out options for the Start Menu etc. at the same time).

I’m leaning towards making a full installer, mainly because the DirectX library is designed to never be uninstalled (it’s a shared library, and other D3D9 apps might use it), and it would be very confusing for users to have an installer with no corresponding uninstaller… also, I may as well get with the program and use the Start Menu, registry etc. the way Windows programs are supposed to. Does anyone have any opinions on this?

Bonus trivia: I get quite regular emails about my Five Hundred game, since it made it onto lots of the large ‘freeware games’ websites and was quite well received at the time. One of the common questions people ask these days is “how do I uninstall it? It’s not in Add/Remove programs”. They must have forgotten that they never installed it in the first place, just unzipped. A few of them are still confused when I tell them to just delete it, so it’s clearly not what today’s users are expecting.

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  1. Sounds like you should go with the install option, it scales up better as well.