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You should not have to do anything with env variables to get Houdini to run. The failure to find dophints.cmd indicates that this is a more general issue than a missing/bad python env var. Please let us know exactly which build of Windows you are currently running. The only time I've seen a message like this in the past was an incompatibility between one of the Houdini libraries and a new Windows update. However we put in code that _should_ protect against this situation. Which is why I'd really like to know the Windows version/build number you are running, so we can test here with a similar configuration.
Also, are you on the Windows Insider program, getting newer Windows updates earlier than the general public?
Thanks in advance for any info.
I haven't read this whole thread, so I apologize if I'm repeating someone else or missing something important…
You could make a digital asset with a multiparm on it, where each instance of the multiparm specifies a file name (and any other per-instance parms you may want to set on the copy SOP). Inside the HDA is a file/copy node pair inside a for loop. Each iteration through the loop pulls a different multiparm value from the parent asset.
This way you can pull in as many files as you want with a single top level node. Each file is one parm on the node. I've been told that it can be challenging getting the dependencies set up properly (to force a recook when the value of a single multiparm instance changes), but I know a similar technique has been made to work in other scenarios.
Oh, sorry, I missed the part about this being a test of Houdini Engine running from your own application. But this test could be useful anyway…
So if you start the command prompt then run “happrentice”. This will start up the “apprentice” (learning) version of Houdini, which should run fine even if you only have an engine license. So it's any output from that command that would be of interest, and knowing whether Houdini opens up or not (once the main window opens, the test if over and you can just close the application).
If it runs okay, then I don't really know how to help you, but it will no doubt narrow down the list of potential issues for those who know more about using the Engine API than I do. Thanks!