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Subject: alt.games.vga-planets mini-faq
This article was archived around: 13 Feb 1999 14:11:57 GMT
Alt.Games.VGA-Planets mini-FAQ page.
This is the Mini Frequently Asked Questions List (FAQ) for the Usenet
Newsgroups Alt.Games.VGA-Planets.The current version of this FAQ is
posted to Alt.Games.VGA-Planets,alt.answers, and news.answers weekly.
For more information see the Full VGAP FAQ at
Subjects covered in this document:
Introduction - "What is VGA-Planets, what do I need, how do I start?"
Strategy - Questions about strategy, and why you shouldn't ask me ;->
Computer Players - "What are they, where to get them?"
IRC - "Is there an IRC channel?"
Spam - "What can I do about Spam?"
Whiners - "This game sux dude."
Web pages - "Anyone know of any web pages?"
FTP - "Where are the FTP sites?"
Hosts - "I want to play!"
This page shows you how to set up a trial game against computer
VGA Planets is a graphical, multi-player, space war game. VGA Planets
is designed to be able to handle from two to eleven players in a
play by mail (electronic mail) game format. The game is designed to
be played as a Net or Bulletin Board System (BBS) game (as long as
file transfers are permitted and available), although it can be
played solely on one computer. Many of the Net players are playing
using E- mail and UUENCODE.
The official homepage is http://www.vgaplanets.com
This game is made up of two main parts; a Client Program and a Host
Each of the players needs a Client program to view their results and
give their orders, and one person uses the Host program to process
those orders and generate new results. The Client Programs are
Shareware, the Host Program is Free.
The game sequence is:
Host: Runs Master.exe and Hconfig.exe to create a new universe.
Host: Runs a Host program to generate player files (player*.rst)
Host: distributes RST files to the players.
Player: Unpacks their RST file
Player: Gives their orders with a client program.
Player: Compiles all the orders they wish to give. (player*.trn)
Player: Gives TRN files to the Host.
Host: Runs the Host program to generate the next set of RSTs.
...and so on.
Planets 3.0: Requires a 286 with Dos and VGA graphics.
WinPlan3.5: Requires Windows.
Shareware Versions of these programs are available at
The official Host Program is available at :
There have also been many, many optional utilities written. These
fall into the same two categories.
Player Utilities help the player by providing more information or
enabling certain tasks to be done faster.
Host Utilities are for hosts, and do things like altering the
behaviour of the universe, reading passwords for players who have
forgotten theirs, Artificial Computer players etc, some even replace
the entire host.exe program.
2) QUESTIONS ABOUT STRATEGY:
A common posting on the newsgroup runs along the lines of:
"Help! I am playing race X, and I am being attacked by races Y and Z.
What should I do? "
Unfortunately the answer is complicated by such things as
Are you using the latest version of host, or an earlier one?
The original Host or PHost?
What sort of various add-ons are you using?
What variables has the host changed for your game set-up?
How good are your opponents?
In fact there are so many variables that often the answer is a matter
of personal preference rather than "the correct answer". A
discussion of strategies is therefore beyond the scope of this
document. The full FAQ has a strategy section.
"So what should I do? "
First read the document files that should have come with the game
If you are playing in a game using a 3.2 series host you had better
read host32.doc because there are a lot of new features that could
catch you unawares. There are also other documents available at most
sites that may prove helpful, such as the Dreadlord Battle manual or
the H files.
Best of all, experiment and learn from your own experience!
"Therefore, I say: Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred
battles, you will never be defeated. When you are ignorant of the
enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.
If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be
defeated in every battle." Sun Tzu, "The Art of War" ~500 B.C.
3) COMPUTER OPPONENTS:
There were no computer opponents included with the basic game!
However Tim Wisseman wrote an add-on called c-player and generously
released the source code. This has led to a number of "cplayers"
being written. The earlier ones tended to cheat quite a bit to make
up for their lack of intelligence, but the later ones are getting
more sophisticated. None of them are as good or as interesting as a
human opponent, but they are better than nothing. Sadly Tim now has
to spend a lot of time modifying his Host program because of errors
produced by poorly-written c-players.
For more information on free c-players, see the excellent computer
opponents FAQ at Cliff Mc Keithan's page:
Another page worth checking is The Q homepage at
For those with access to Internet Relay Chat, there are VGA Planets
channels on most of the major networks. The most popular is probably
#vgaplanets on Efnet. You will need to connect to an EFnet server
such as irc.neosoft.com 6665 and then join #vgaplanets
There are also IRC conferences with Tim Wisseman, the author of VGA
Planets. These take place every first Sunday of the month on the
#VGAPlanets IRC channel at chat.talkcity.com [port: 6667]. This IRC
server is stand alone and is not connected to any IRC networks. Those
without IRC clients can also use the chat room link at the Den of
5) SPAM, TROLLS, AND MAKE-MONEY-FAST POSTS
Sadly these seem to be a fact of life on the net. Everybody hates
them, so there's really no need to post a follow up to any of these
sorts of posts. Ignore them, or if you really want to do something
useful examine the message headers to determine the site the message
came from and forward a copy including the full headers to addresses
like postmaster@, usenet@, news@, abuse@, support@, root@ at the same
site. Be polite and they may do something about tracking the
offender down. http://www.vix.com/spam/ has a lot of information
about this if you want to find out more.
6) WHINERS AND COMPLAINERS
Constructive criticism is generally acceptable on the group, but a
lot of time is wasted by people whining or making personal attacks on
Tim for not constructing the game the way they would have done ( if
only they had thought of it first). Here's an excellent piece of
advice courtesy of The Psyborg -Psyborg@ucla.edu:
>Let me put this into easy to understand language for everyone out
>1. If you don't like the product, don't buy it.
>2. If you don't like the programmer, don't support his stuff.
>3. If you think you can do a better job, VB costs under $200...
>4. If you think the game needs something else, make the suggestion.
>5. If your suggestion is ignored, either quit or keep playing.
>Is that simple enough or what?
Should posts on Alt.Games.VGA-Planets be restricted solely to the
discussion of the game itself, or is it an arena where fellow VGAP
enthusiasts can discuss anything they like? This is a matter of
personal opinion, however it seems a safe prediction that
advertisments for games that are in direct competition with VGAP will
not be all that popular with some of the more 'excitable' members of
7) WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES:
For an exhaustive list check out the VGA Planets Web Ring
The Official Home Page.
This is run by Tim Wisseman himself. 'Nuf said.
The mini-FAQ page.
A HTML copy of the Alt.Games.VGA-Planets mini-FAQ.
The UK Resource for Interstellar PBEM Games
8) ANONYMOUS FTP SITES:
Tim Wisseman's Site.
Here you can find the latest releases of the official software and
THE ftp site. The biggest, the best, the busiest. In Berlin,
9) HOSTING SITES:
So now you want to play? Hosting a game over the net is a big
commitment and requires alot of work on the Hosts part. Also since it
is best if a host does not play in their own games they are doing
this for little or no reward. Bear this in mind and be nice to hosts!
Make sure you know what you are doing first. Read the docs, host
your own game against a cplayer for a while to get the "feel" of
things. When you've done that you are ready to play for real.
Hosts will advertise on the newsgroup when they have a game ready to
start. Remember to reply to THEM, not to the newsgroup! Also there
are few things more irritating than someone who starts a game and
then quits partway through. Hosts faced with this problem will
advertise for replacement players on the newsgroup.
For a list of sites that host, check out the VGA Planets Host