December 06, 2022, 01:57:49

Author Topic: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback  (Read 68019 times)

Offline Arparso

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Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« on: January 27, 2011, 20:31:49 »
In preparation for the Freespace mod release, I've been cooking up a new launcher tool for Nexus. The goal is for tighter mod integration with latest news feeds, links to mods' homepages, etc.

Download Nexus Launcher (Beta)



Capabilities:
- start vanilla Nexus (single/multiplayer) or any installed mod
- displays RSS news feeds for supported mods (*)
- allows setting graphics options, including resolutions and windowed/fullscreen modes

Planned stuff that's missing in this beta:
- welcome page with some content...
- working uninstall button
- setting texture detail doesn't work yet
- (skippable) automatic intro movie playback for mods (*)
- displaying extended infos about the selected mod (*)

Requirements
- working Nexus installation, obviously
- Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (Client Profile)

(*) - in order for these features to work, the mod needs either his own "modinfo.xml" in the mod's base folder or needs to have his information already included in the launcher

modinfo.xml?
This file includes some basic information about your mod: name, version, author, website, intro movie and an RSS news feed can be specified right now. You just have to place the file in mod folder and the launcher will pick it up. I'll give an example of such a file:

Code: [Select]
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mod xmlns="http://arparso.de/nexus">
<name>Battlestar Galactica</name>
<version>beta 4.1</version>
<author>Nexus BSG modding group</author> 
<web>http://www.moddb.com/mods/nexus-battlestar-galactica/downloads/nexus-battlestar-galactica-beta-41</web>
<rss>http://rss.moddb.com/mods/nexus-battlestar-galactica/news/feed/rss.xml</rss>
<intro>intro.wmv</intro>
</mod>

Hopefully that's rather self explanatory. As for the RSS feed: currently only the moddb-news-feed is properly supported... I can't guarantee for other feed formats to work as expected.

Regarding the intro playback: it's not included yet, but it's planned to play the intro movie specified in the modinfo.xml when launching the game with your mod. There'll also be a checkbox "Skip intro" so you're not forced to watch it every time. I didn't really find a way to make Nexus play an intro movie upon startup, so that's the reason behind this feature... its a bit boring to just be thrown into a mission-selection menu, when you start a new mod, isn't it?

Feedback and suggestions welcome
Am I missing something vitally important? Does the launcher not work for you? I'd like to hear all of that, so please try the tool and send some feedback my way ;)

If you want me to already include your modinfo.xml in the launcher - possibly also for older versions of your mod, so they'll get the news feed treatment as well - feel free to post the file(s) here along with the actual folder name of your mod.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 10:00:11 by Arparso »

Offline DreamorCZ

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 21:34:05 »
Firstly, great idea. Secondly, great tool.  8) Only thing witch is a little anoying is opening of the original nexus launcher after quitting Nexus.

Also, thanks to this tool is fullscreen mod finally working properly for me.

Two ideas. One, welcoming page containing news about all mods that will participate or at least news about all installed mods using modinfo.xml. Two, somehow add AA to the config if possible.
Editor in Chief at http://www.cgnexus.eu/

Offline Mularac

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 05:46:11 »
Wow... this certainly came out of nowhere....
Anyway, excellent! This is so awesome!

I wanted to point out the same things that Dreamor posted about, plus, our mod's modinfo.xml, as well as B5's one.

Folder names:
Stargate mod: Well... this is embarrasing. I actually don't have it in my drive... And my blasted internet won't let me download big stuff withouth freezing in the middle... But it should be Stargate Mod War Begins Beta 10
B5 mod: B5 Conflicts of Loyalty 2 PB v6

 if you would be so kind as to add them to your exe for now, at least until our following release.

Also, I'd like to report a bug: If there's no internet connection, the program will freeze and crash after a few seconds.

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2011, 01:42:41 »
Thanks for the feedback, guys :)

Original Nexus launcher starting after the game ends:
Will look into it, although there's not that much to do about it. I could keep my own launcher running in the background and looking for the nexus.exe process to come up and then kill it right away. Seems a bit messy, though.

Welcome page:
Good ideas to present a mod overview or the last news for these mods or something like that. Might look into it, although I'll still need some fallback solution for if the user hasn't got installed any modinfo-enhanced mods or if there's no internet access available

Adding AA to the config:
Not gonna happen, sorry. The game doesn't offer this feature, so it'd need to be activated through the graphics driver... and I'm not gonna mess with drivers (too many variants of those around with no consistent way to enable AA). If you want AA in Nexus, you'll have to enable it for yourself in your driver.

Crash when there's no internet connection:
Yeah, forgot to uncomment a few lines of code ... shouldn't happen in the final version ;)

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2011, 02:45:25 »
This is really fantastic, Arparso! I'll try to come up with any critiques later on :)

We'll add the modinfo.xml to Nexus BSG in our next release, so you don't have to clutter up your code with our info once it's out :D
« Last Edit: February 02, 2011, 02:48:17 by jstubbles »

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2011, 03:08:20 »
We'll add the modinfo.xml to Nexus BSG in our next release, so you don't have to clutter up your code with our info once it's out :D
Nah, it wouldn't clutter up the code... I'd just include the provided xml as a fallback option, if no modinfo.xml could be found. The beta version downloadable here already includes a few sample xmls, which should have appeared here: ;)

%LOCALAPPDATA%\Arparso\Nexus Launcher\defaults

(copy-paste to windows explorer and open path)

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2011, 03:10:49 »
Oh, nice :)

I have found one issue so far - doesn't work if you bought Nexus through Steam. Says that Steam cannot be found.

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2011, 03:32:36 »
I have found one issue so far - doesn't work if you bought Nexus through Steam. Says that Steam cannot be found.
You mean when clicking "Play"? Damn, I'll have to look into that...

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2011, 03:58:07 »
Yeah, as soon as I click play. Shuts down the launcher tries to launch Nexus and a Application error pops up with "Failed to find Steam" :(

Strange, considering it found the game, config options and all of that. Nice little package though, can't wait until it's all working :D

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 11:35:26 »
Frakking Steam... yeah, the Nexus executables are most likely somehow protected to only be launchable from Steam - starting nexus_dx9.exe directly doesn't work there.

Using "steam.exe -applaunch 6420" should work, though, I just gotta add some code to distinguish between "normal" Nexus versions and the Steam version.

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2011, 14:01:28 »
Doh! Bloody Steam and its DRM...

Of course, using "steam.exe -applaunch 6420" starts up the default Nexus launcher... so my launcher replacement launches the old launcher forcing you to select the desired mod yet AGAIN.  >:(

Luckily there's a workaround: whoever implemented this DRM for Nexus, did so in a "moddable" way - Steam doesn't launch Nexus directly, but rather the "runme.exe" in the Nexus folder. This app probably deals with the whole DRM stuff and then launches whatever executable is written in plain text format in "runme.dat". Per default, that's "nexus.exe" - changing it to "nexus_DX9.exe" completely bypasses the default launcher and directly starts the game.

Now my launcher has to automate that file manipulation, too... and if Steam is installed in a protected "Program Files" folder, it even needs administrative rights to edit runme.dat. Even worse: the user will be unable to bring up the default launcher again (e.g. through Steam), so in order to change mods he HAS to use my custom launcher or revert the changes to "runme.dat".


"Steam... making simple stuff complicated."   :o

Offline DreamorCZ

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 15:27:50 »
"Steam is an evil." (bad thing based on a good idea)

I've encountered another problem recently. Sometimes, drop down menu is not working after playing Nexus.

Also, another two ideas. Button for launching skirmisher and not quitting launcher after clicking play.
Editor in Chief at http://www.cgnexus.eu/

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2011, 03:08:07 »
Bah, I love Steam :)

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2011, 04:52:19 »
Slightly updated version ready to go... ;)

Download Nexus Launcher (Beta)

Changes:
  • FIX: launcher crashed without active internet connection
  • FIX: couldn't launch Steam version due to DRM issues
  • FIX: texture quality setting wasn't saved
  • ADDED: setting to keep the launcher running after starting the game
  • ADDED: setting to skip a mod's intro (only if the mod actually has an intro)
  • ADDED: experimental intro playback function (if a mod specified an intro movie in modinfo.xml, it'll be played back fullscreen before starting the game)
  • ADDED: optional fix to avoid Steam starting the default launcher (can be enabled/disabled on the configuration screen)

Would love to hear some feedback, if the Steam "fix" is working properly for you. Also a few notes regarding the intro functionality and how it's meant to be used:

You can place a video file in your mod folder and store the relative path to the file in your modinfo.xml like this:

Code: [Select]
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mod xmlns="http://arparso.de/nexus">
   <name>Freespace: Evolution</name>
   <version>1.0</version>
   <author>Arparso</author>
   <web>http://www.moddb.com/mods/freespace-evolution</web>
   <rss>http://rss.moddb.com/mods/freespace-evolution/news/feed/rss.xml</rss>
   <intro>movies\intro.wmv</intro>
</mod>

Theoretically you can use any video file format, size or whatever... if Windows Media Player can open and play your video, then so can the launcher. You have to keep in mind, however, that not everybody will have the same codecs installed as you do - the Xvid-formatted intro might work fine on your machine, but other people without the proper codec will run into problems there. I'd suggest sticking to formats you'd be able to playback on a fresh WinXP install. WMV9 should be fine, I guess... didn't do too much testing, though, so I'd strongly suggest testing it for yourself.

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2011, 15:24:48 »
Although I'll not be releasing the launcher till some time after the Freespace mod launch, I'd like to inform you about another new feature ahead of time, so you can incorporate the appropriate support into your mods, if you wish to do so:

(bear with me, this is a rather long post, but I really wanted to give more detailled explanations so you fully understand what to expect of it)

Mod-Update Feature

The launcher will be able to detect outdated versions of your mods and direct the player to a website of your choice, so he can quickly find the correct download.

What's required to make this work for your mod:

  • create an XML-file with all the information required by the update feature and place it somewhere on a web server (details see below)
  • add a new element to the modinfo.xml you're deploying with your mod, so the launcher is able to find your XML file

Here is an example of a modinfo.xml with the new <updateInfo>-tag:
Code: [Select]
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<mod xmlns="http://arparso.de/nexus">
   <name>Freespace: Evolution</name>
   <version>1.0</version>
   <author>Arparso</author>
   <web>http://www.moddb.com/mods/freespace-evolution</web>
   <rss>http://rss.moddb.com/mods/freespace-evolution/news/feed/rss.xml</rss>
   <intro>movies\intro.wmv</intro>
   <updateInfo>http://arparso.de/nexus/freespace/updateInfo.xml</updateInfo>
</mod>

What needs to be put into the new XML-file:

Let's start off with a complete example:

Code: [Select]
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<updateInfo xmlns="http://arparso.de/nexus">
<name>Freespace: Evolution</name>
<legacyName>Freespace Mod</legacyName>
<mostRecentVersion>1.5</mostRecentVersion>
<overrideWeb>http://arparso.de/nexus/freespace</overrideWeb>
<overrideRss>http://arparso.de/nexus/freespace/news.rss</overrideRss>
<update from="*" link="http://arparso.de/nexus/freespace/fse_setup15.exe"/>
<update from="1.0" to="1.2" link="http://arparso.de/nexus/freespace/fse_update10to12.exe"/>
<update from="0.8 | 0.9" to="1.0" link="http://arparso.de/nexus/freespace/fse_update0xto10.exe"/>
</updateInfo>

There are a lot of optional elements shown here, which can be omitted in many cases. The minimum required update info consists of the <name> and <mostRecentVersion> elements, like so:

Code: [Select]
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<updateInfo xmlns="http://arparso.de/nexus">
<name>Freespace: Evolution</name>
<mostRecentVersion>1.5</mostRecentVersion>
</updateInfo>

Now for a element-by-element description:

name: (required)
- the mod's name; MUST match the name specified in the modinfo.xml or else the update feature will be disabled (for exceptions see <legacyName>)

legacyName:
- if you mod was named differently in the past, you can add the older names with <legacyName> elements
- you can have multiple <legacyName> elements, if you've went through a couple of name changes
- this way different versions of your mod with different names can all use the same updater XML file

mostRecentVersion: (required)
- the version name of the most recent version of your mod
- relates to the <version> element of the modinfo.xml
- can be any number or text string or whatever... no specific versioning format is enforced
- if the <version> element of the installed mod differs from <mostRecentVersion>, then the launcher assumes the need to update

The last fact is important: no versioning format is enforced, nor is it analyzed - if <version> and <mostRecentVersion> differ, an update notification WILL be displayed. If <version> is "1.0" and <mostRecentVersion> is "0.9" (e.g. because you forgot to update your XML), the launcher will still notify the player of an update, although the version numbers seem to imply otherwise.

The benefit here is, that you can use any kind of versioning format: incremental build numbers, release dates or fancy names like "Aurora release" or whatever.

Also note, that you can have side-by-side installations of different versions of the same mod without the launcher annoyingly telling you to update: as long as you have the most recent version already installed, it won't display update notifications for the mod's older versions.

update:
This element has no content, but three attributes, and can be included multiple times for different downloads:

link
- contains the actual information about where to find the download
- "link" should contain a valid URL to either a webpage or the actual download
- the launcher will offer to open "link" in the default web browser
- optional: if no "link" is given, the contents of the <web> element in modinfo.xml will be used instead

from
- if this update should only be applied to a specific group of versions, then specify these versions in the from-attribute
- can contain a single version matching the <version> element of the modinfo.xml
- can also contain a whole group of versions, seperated by a vertical line: | (bitwise OR-operator in most programming languages)
- can also contain an asterisk, *, meaning that this download is meant for ALL versions (except for those, that already have their own <update> element)
- optional: if no "from" attribute is specified, it is assumed to contain an asterisk as default value

to
- if you're offering incremental updates, that don't immediately update to the most recent version, you can specify this with the "to" attribute
- can contain a single version matching the <version> that this download updates the mod to
- optional: if no "to" attribute is specified, it is assumed to contain the <mostRecentVersion> as default value

If you don't include ANY <update> element, the player will be instructed to go to the <web> address in his mod's modinfo.xml to get the new version (equivalent to a default <update> element with no from, to or link attributes specified).

Additionally, the launcher will probably also try to find an upgrade path to the most recent version, if you're using incremental updates. E.g. if there is no update from 1.0 to 1.2, but you have an update from 1.0 to 1.1 and from 1.1 to 1.2, then the launcher should be able to detect this upgrade path to 1.2 and display both download links.

overrideWeb, overrideRss:
- normally, if you've moved your mod's homepage to a different address, you'd need to update the already deployed modinfo.xml for all your players, because the <web> and <rss> addresses might have become invalid
- using <overrideWeb> and <overrideRss>, however, lets you override the elements in modinfo.xml and specify the new URLs
- optional: you can specify the versions you want this override to apply to in an optional "for" attribute, just like with the "from" attribute in the <update> element
- you can have multiple <overrideWeb> or <overrideRss> elements for different versions


-------------------------------------

THIS IS NOT CURRENTLY IMPLEMENTED IN THE LAST BETA, so don't expect this to work with it. I'm releasing this feature description, so you can plan ahead and prepare your mod to utilize this feature.

If you don't have your own webspace to park your XML file containing the update info, I may be able to host it for you. Just send me a message and we'll work something out.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2011, 15:28:25 by Arparso »

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2011, 01:56:41 »
That's bloody fantastic, Arparso! I'll make sure we're ready when this rolls out :)

The steam fix works for me, but it looks like it has that issue you mentioned before, where it still opens the original launcher.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 02:02:09 by jstubbles »

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2011, 03:31:58 »
The steam fix works for me, but it looks like it has that issue you mentioned before, where it still opens the original launcher.
Did you actually apply the "Steam fix" (found under "configuration")? This should take care of the issue.

Downside is, that you won't be able to start the standard Nexus launcher through Steam again (unless you "undo" the fix, also found on the configuration page).

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2011, 05:25:32 »
Yeah I applied the fix. If I choose to close the launcher after launch then it never shows up. :)

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2011, 10:22:39 »
Hmm? Wait, what never shows up? The game? The launcher? I'm confused... :o

So you use my launcher, have applied the Steam fix (option is greyed out) and it still starts the default Nexus launcher when clicking "Play"? Or do you mean, it starts the default Nexus launcher AFTER you've quit the game... because that's normal.

Offline jstubbles

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2011, 20:30:10 »
Yeah I applied the steam fix. It will still show the original launcher unless I click the "close launcher after game start" checbox.

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2011, 17:08:26 »
I like this quite a lot. I do have a request though, could you make it detect if the mod supports multiplayer? I use something similar to war begins(Two .bat files one for SP one for MP) for changing to multiplayer(Mine just has some added stuff), and I think many people would like an option to change it to mp/sp from the launcher rather then going to the folder and running the .bat files. Maybe have an entry in the modinfo.xml for the file names of the .bat files and have it run them when a button is pressed on the menu?

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2011, 00:11:44 »
Sure, that shouldn't be too hard. Just add an optional <configuration> element to the modinfo.xml, like so:

Code: [Select]
<configuration name="Multiplayer" execute="switchToMultiplayer.bat" arguments="-f 1024"/>
<configuration name="Singleplayer" execute="switchToSingleplayer.bat"/>

name: (optional)
This'll be displayed in the launcher.
- if no name is specified, whatever is in "execute" will be displayed instead

execute:
This is the executable the launcher will try to start when the user makes the switch (e.g. the .bat-file or the .exe or whatever)

arguments: (optional)
These are command-line arguments you want to supply to the executable.
- if no arguments are specified, none will be supplied to the executable


This way you can have as many different configurations as you'd like. E.g. a Star Trek mod could allow the player to switch between different genereations like classic, TNG or whatever. Or you use it to switch the mod between multi- and singleplayer.

You still need to handle the switch yourself, of course, so you'll have to create the .bat-files or whatever on your own, like you do now.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 00:14:01 by Arparso »

Offline EmeraldReporter

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2011, 19:04:09 »
Progress Arparso??

What new features are you looking to implement? Or, are you working on re-hauling Nexus Skirmisher?

Tell us something, anything! Are you gonna' get into high gear in the summer? Or has your interest in Nexus" TJI dimmed? a lot?!
Producer & Scriptwriter / N:TJI Community Podcast

Offline Arparso

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2011, 16:00:09 »
No, it's just slow going with the Freespace mod and the launcher in the pipeline next to my usual workload. Sadly it's a big difference between "getting something to work" and "refining it enough to make it work for everybody". There's always something not quite turning out how it was planned.

It's still on my to-do list, but I can't promise a date.

Offline sentinel1280

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Re: Nexus Launcher beta - need feedback
« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2011, 03:25:12 »
Good morrow...

I downloaded the Beta for the Launcher, but every time I run it, I get a message that it cannot find the Nexus install in my registry (I own the CD copy).  Any ideas?  Has anyone else run into this error?

Thanks!