Tequila User Guide
It's funny, I've spent three years of my life being the unofficial tech support for this program in one way or another, and I'm not a programmer. I've come this far, let's see if I can spend another three more. 😛
Tequila is described as follows on GitHub:
(Pretty terse, I know.)
In short, Tequila was made after the game shutdown occured to get Issue 24 client files out to as many people as possible (the basis of various projects... and the history of Tequila isn't the subject of this post). In that, Tequila is a definite success.
As this is a guide on the Homecoming Servers, Tequila is our official loader and is (at the moment) the supported way to launch City of Heroes with the Homecoming Servers shards for Windows computers. It can launch the game for any compatible manifest, so it can launch servers from other COH communities if you like. (Homecoming Servers is not responsible for their tech support. We'll show you how to enter a new manifest below, but from there it's between you and them.)
How it Works
Behind the scenes, Tequila's magic is accomplished by a manifest file, or a list that is updated by a programmer on locations and instructions where to find files to update a program. It uses a checksum to verify that the file downloaded is the one expected by the programmer, and overwrites the prior ones, so you have an updated program when a new version of City of Heroes is finished. This is all done in Tequila's startup process:
Collecting Info: Fetching the updated Manifest File. The launch definitions are updated if necessary, changing the launch commands visible.
Validation: Tequila begins Validating the files present in the folder and comparing their checksums against the Manifest.
Download Updates: If the files do not match, they are downloaded one after another. If there are files that do match, they are left as they are. (Files not in the manifest such as config files and player mods are ignored.)
Report: Once the downloading is finished, Tequila reports "Done." if no issues occured. If it didn't complete, a list of "Errors" in the main window show certain files that did not download. At that point, you can close and reopen Tequila to try again.
At ANY point in this process, you are free to double click a Launch name to try to start the client. Because the launch definitions are updated first, if the game does not get updated files, the launch command will not align with the current game version, and you'll get an error when signing in that the game is the wrong version.
Tequila has three main areas:
Program Launchers are on the left hand side. These are updated FIRST by the Tequila Manifest file. You can launch one immediately, even while patching files, by double clicking on a program name.
As of January 2020, the current manifest has the following:
Homecoming (64-Bit) - Launches the 64-bit client.
Homecoming (32-Bit) - Launches the 32-bit client.
Homecoming (Safe Mode) - Launches the SCORE client that isn't being actively updated anymore. This option is being removed soon.
Paragon Chat - Opens Titan Network's Paragon Chat, which is included with Issue 24 as a chat program based in City of Heroes. It does badges, mini-games, and base editing, but is intended for RP group usage. This DOES NOT connect to the Homecoming Servers, and is a different service altogether. Requires a forum account on Titan Network to login.
Titan Icon v1.71 - Opens Titan Network's Icon, which is a machinima tool to let users place, animate and use NPC Costumes, among other features. No Internet required.
The following controls for the patcher are available:
PLAY -- Does the same as double-clicking on a program. While patching, PLAY will show dashes until patching is complete.
MANIFEST (Unlabeled) -- Shows the current manifest being processed. When patching is through, you can change manifest by clicking on the drop down list. While patching, this list will be grayed out. You can edit these entries in OPTIONS (below).
SCREENSHOTS -- Opens the Screenshot folder for the game, allowing you quick access to pictures taken with the Print Screen function (actual button depends on your key binds.)
OPTIONS -- Shows the Tequila Options panel:
Launch Parameters -- This allows you to add command line arguments to City of Heroes BEFORE launching the client. Useful for Demoediting playback, troubleshooting or advanced uses. You can find command line arguments in Paragon Wiki.
Close Tequila after starting the game. -- Tequila operates at 15MB in RAM, but if you like keeping resources as clean as possible, check this box to close Tequila once the game is started successfully. Unchecking this means Tequila stays open, which can be useful for "multiboxing" (opening multiple clients.)
Install Path -- This is where you want Tequila to install the files. When Tequila is ran for the first time, a folder selection box will appear asking for this path before it gets the first manifest update. This is the same path, which you can change at any time. (Changing the path to an empty folder means redownloading all of the Issue 24 files again, which can take a long time.)
Colors -- You can recolor Tequila to fit your preferences. Default is your system colors.
Manifests -- You can enter a custom manifest to open the Beta Client, or other servers out there. Homecoming's manifests are as follows:
Re-Validate -- Touching this button causes Tequila to restart the manifest validation process. Useful when correcting an address and you don't want to restart Tequila.
The last segment of the screen is the Information window. This shows information chosen by the Manifest author that is useful to the players. Clicking on this box opens an Internet Explorer window with further info.
As with any program, Tequila and Homecoming Servers has requirements before you can run it for the first time on a computer that has never run it. These requirements are:
Microsoft .NET 3.5 Framework (135MB) -- Specific to Tequila.
Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 Runtime (14MB) -- Specific to Homecoming Servers.
Both of these are available for free, but may need explanation:
Microsoft .NET 3.5 Framework
.NET Framework has been notoriously slow and difficult to install for a program runtime. The traditional method is to download the above installer and let the installer handle it. But I've seen systems on Fiber Internet sit there for hours and not progress, or give vague errors and cancel. There's a way we install it in tech circles that is faster, but requires a Windows Installation CD or USB. (If you are on Windows 10, one can be made at anytime. Click here, and choose "Download Tool Now". You'll need a 8GB Flash Drive that you won't miss giving up. For bonus tech points: create an ISO with the tool, and mount the ISO as a pseudo-DVD drive.)
You'll need to open an elevated command prompt. To do this, press START (Win key on the keyboard, or the Windows Logo in the corner of the taskbar) and type "cmd" but DON'T PRESS ENTER. Instead, hold down CTRL+SHIFT and press ENTER.
If it worked, you'll get a challenge window.
Answer yes, and you'll see this:
(Mine's transparent, yours may look different.) You'll see "Administrator: Command Prompt" in the title if you're successful. If you see "Command Prompt" and no challenge box opened, you're on a standard account and cannot open an elevated prompt.
Once this is open type the following. You'll need to adapt it to your Windows install location:
...where X: is your USB or CD Drive containing the Windows Installer. You MIGHT need a different path on the /Source part of the command if the Windows Installer is a dual-architecture one. (Use X:\Sources\x86\sxs or X:\Sources\x64\sxs accordingly.)
Enter this, and you'll see the following:
If the command succeeds, your .Net 3.5 Framework will be installed in minutes. No internet connection even necessary to finish it! If it doesn't succeed, check the syntax (what you typed) and make sure the Sources address is correct on your system. USB Drives can take any drive letter, so it's up to you to find it on your computer (G: isn't going to be the answer above.)
Visual C++ 2015 Runtime
This isn't needed for Tequila specifically, but City of Heroes itself. If you launch the game client, and see this pop up over Tequila...
(Not this SPECIFIC window, as programname.exe isn't going to match the client, but you get the picture.)
...this tells you that the Visual C++ 2015 Runtime is not present on your system. This is needed to launch the game.
IMPORTANT: On a 64-bit system the runtime you select will be the version of Homecoming that will work. (If you're on a 64-bit system and install 32-bit runtimes, you're playing Homecoming 32-bit.) If you're on a 32-bit system, your only choice is the 32-bit runtime. 64-bit won't run at all.
Visual C++ 2015 comes in two flavors: x86 (the 32-bit version) and x64 (natch, the 64-bit version.) WE RECOMMEND MOST USERS TO INSTALL THE 64-BIT RUNTIMES unless you're on 32-bit Windows.
Sounds confusing? Here's an easy way to find out which system you have: press WIN-BREAK. This opens the System Control Panel on ANY WINDOWS system. You'll look for the "system type" line, which will list what operating system and processor architecture is installed. If you see 32-bit ANYWHERE in that line, you need to install the 32-bit runtimes.
Once installed, the error box will not show and instead, you'll see this:
...and you'll be ready to go.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tequila
Tequila has a popup box telling me it can't save a file. The green bar is stopped until I click OK.
This is a sign your anti-virus program is blocking the file from being saved. This happens if your program uses a "Quarantine" location to stop files from running before you can review them, or for endpoint protection apps, it either deletes or sends a copy of the file to an administrator (or IT Dept.) before deletion.
While some files are not needed to run City of Heroes (like Icon.exe and ParagonChat.exe, both of which are projects from Titan Network), if this is happening you need to add Tequila.exe and the Tequila Install Path (see above in Settings) to your anti-virus app for exclusion.
I know anti-virus is blocking my ability to play. Can you help me find a workaround?
If you are using a school or work PC to play Homecoming, we cannot support you in what you need to do to play the game on a system that you do not legally own. Please don't get into trouble over us, and wait until you come home to play games.
If you are at home, you'll need to find out how to make an exclusion for your game. As there are numerous anti-virus apps out there, you'll need to look up the documentation for how to do this for your system. Homecoming staff isn't able to assist you in operating your Anti-Virus application. You can, however, ask in Help and Support in the forums, or in the Discord server under #client-issues, if other users have an antivirus app like yours, and they can point you in the right direction.
Isn't it unsafe to make exclusions? Can't your team work on make Tequila and the game client safe?
Codewalker on Titan Network had a great writeup on why this isn't likely to happen with "homebrew devs" & community supported development groups.
The Cliff Notes: Antivirus stopped being about stopping specific threats years ago. There's 10s to 100s of new threats being written per day. What modern computer safety looks like today: you can take two routes to be recognized as safe by an anti-virus company.
Assertion. Corporations sign their software with certificates that are validated with identity providers. If a corporation asserts to the anti-virus provider the code is safe, they agree and that's that. (I'm grossly oversimplifying this process. There's safety checks, internal audits and ISO compliance that a corporation needs to prove to the Anti-Virus agency that they follow that reinforces this assertion.)
Heuristics. It takes a lot of money to go the Assertion route. So most software developers try to write software that is as safe as possible. Garbage collection, finding memory leaks, and testing for malicious use is at the forefront of this method. The problem with the Heuristics route is that there is no playbook that works 100% of the time. If there was one, virus authors would use it to find loopholes for detection faster than they already do.
In the Rogue Server era, City of Heroes (in it's current form) is impossible to offer on a plate to an anti-virus company to assert that it is safe. And the stories of City of Heroes being a spaghetti knot of code are not exaggerations, so the heuristic route is the only path we have. (No blessings, hope for most AV providers to not actively block us, which is currently the plan we're following.) Put simply, you'll have to evaluate whether you trust Homecoming Servers, L.L.C. to tell you if the client is safe to run or not, against your Antivirus Solution.
If you want to play the game, you'll need to make the exclusions. If you trust your anti-virus over all else, or work in a place with "endpoint protection" that blocks Tequila from working in the first place, then the decision is already made.
Tequila says "Error reaching manifest" and doesn't even start checking files. I can't launch any games.
Make sure your Internet connection is working. As City of Heroes is an online title, Tequila cannot start without a manifest loaded. No Internet, no manifest, no game. They all go together.
I can't login once the login screen comes up.
This isn't related to Tequila, but check your account credentials, and change them here if you need to. (Beta Server, check here instead.)
I can't reach any of the servers; they're all grayed out or there's red dots.
This isn't related to Tequila, but you can see the server status here. Tequila and the client are working as intended and your computer is fine; there's other technical problems afoot away from your house and Internet Service Provider.
I heard there's a version of Island Rum for Windows, made by Manga. Can I use that? Is there a Tequila for Mac in the works?
Island Rum has a version for PC, but the purpose of Island Rum's existence is to support the Mac community first. There are no plans to create Tequila for Mac users, as Island Rum also handles Wine and Mac-specific issues that Tequila isn't written for.
I heard there are other launchers out there, or I don't like Tequila. Can I use another launcher?
Tequila and Island Rum are the only launchers supported by the Homecoming Servers team. There are other launchers out there, but we cannot assist with technical issues or problems if they crop up. Please stick to Tequila if you're on Windows.
I read somewhere that Tequila isn't safe, that it can delete files. Is this true?
Tequila can overwrite and delete files according to the instructions given in the manifest, and nothing further. Therefore it is IMPORTANT to only use the manifest files addresses provided by Homecoming in playing the game. If someone tells you to use a different manifest to enter into Tequila to play Homecoming, check the Announcements in these forums to make sure it's official first (GM Jimmy, Cipher, and The Curator are authoritative members of the Homecoming Staff who will make such announcements.)