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Interceptor

Author: C. J. Holz

- INTERCEPTOR VERSION 3.00 -----------------------------------------------

August 16th, 1995
VGA Planets Player Utility for VGA Planets v3.00 and 3.5.
Interceptor v3.00. Copyright (C) 1994-1995 by C. J. Holz
VGA Planets is Copyright (C) 1992-1995 by Tim Wisseman

- WHAT IS INTERCEPTOR? ---------------------------------------------------
Interceptor examines the data from visible enemy ships, and provides

* detailed enemy ship information. VGA Planets does not always provide a description of enemy ships that are in scanner range.

* estimated Final Destination. An enemy ship may be headed for one of your planets, the necessary action can then be taken. If it a freighter headed for another planet, then it could be assumed to be colonizing or transporting minerals

* Projected Destination (or PD) for the next turn. This information would be most useful to privateers or for any cloaking vessel that wishes to intercept an enemy ship without de-cloaking. The only possible error is from the rounded off ship heading.

* PD for each estimated Final Destination. Because of the rounding error in the enemies heading. A PD for each estimated destination is calculated with the more accurate headings from the estimated destinations, which has at least 9 decimal places to provide a more accurate and very precise (100% correct during testing) way of getting an interception.

* estimated Departure Point. Home planets or colonized planets can be located by this method, a large assault could then be lead against it, or a planet to stay away from, or sold as information to other players.

* hyperspacial jump ship departure / destination estimation. Useful as a warning when a hyperspacial ship approaches the 350 light year range with one of your own planets, or to find the planet where it just jumped from.

* closest armed friendly ship to the enemy ship. Can't decide which of your ships are closest for interception? This takes care of some of the minor decisions. An armed ship is determined by having at least 1 beam weapon installed, or having torps or fighters loaded.

* /CUT switch. This will remove headings and other non-vital information from the report to reduce its size, but it will make it less readable to the novice.

* Incept.INI file.

* /LIST switch. Briefly lists all enemy ships (one line for each), with ID#, Owner, Location, Warp, Heading, shortened name and hull name, current net weight, Projected distance and Projected Destination on the current heading. (Also INI field "LIST")

* INI IGNORE=#,# field. Specify certain ships by ID number to be ignored when reporting. Useful when you have several allied ships from another race in your territory and you don't need to know where they are headed. Useful in reducing the report size.

* INI IGNORE=0FUEL option. Leaves ships without fuel (0 Kt net weight) from the report. Also added as the switch /0FUEL

* INI IGNORE=IR# option. For ignoring a particular race's ships. Simply: IGNORE=#,#,IR3,#,IR8,#,IRa,#,0FUEL,# This is to ignore Birds, Evil empire and Rebel ships. Can also be specified as a command parameter switch /IR##### ie. /IR123456789ab

* /NOPRO command parameter switch. (cuts down report size) Leaves out the Projected Destination line from the report. (Also as INI setting "NOPRO")

* /NODEP command parameter switch. (cuts down report size) Removes estimated departure points from the report. (Also as INI setting "NODEP")

* /NOARM command parameter switch. (cuts down report size) This removes the Closest Armed Ship text from the report. (Also as INI setting "NOARM")

* batch file error levels.

level 1 - no player specified.
level 2 - files not found in specified directory or incorrect directory specified.
level 3 - specified player number not found.
level 4 - error occured during execution of EXEC for report listing.

! Allow reading of RST files before unpacking. Incept will multi-read both unpacked player data and RST files, preference is given to RST files if unpacked data for the same race already exists.

! Planetary gravity well corrections, for projected destinations. When PD occurs within the 3LY radius of a Planet a "w" token marker("w" for just HOST 3.1x and "wý" for HOST 3.1x and 3.2x) is placed after the PD to say "this PD is affected by a Gravity Well".

! INI setting for EXECuting a program for listing the Interception reports when finished. By adding into the INI file the setting "EXEC=fileexe", the fileexe is called when INCEPT is finished passing the last report filename as a paramater.

! Special Interceptor calculator. This is a seperate program for Windows (INCEPTC). Real simple.

Ÿ Combined player interception report. Process two or more race's as a single player. For players who control more than one race in a game.

Ÿ Incorporated smart player processor, no more need to specify a particular race (who's going to only process particular races, when they are playing them all?)

Note: * current features.

! new features since the last major version.

Ÿ possible improvements for Ÿuture versions.

 

- WHAT IT CAN'T DO! ------------------------------------------------------

Interceptor can only read enemy ship data that is normally available in a game, it can't give friendly codes, or the precise destination of the enemy ships. It uses such information as current location, heading and warp speed to provide a best guess.

- HOW DO I USE INTERCEPTOR? ----------------------------------------------

Simply place the INCEPT.EXE program file into you VGA Planets subdirectory where all the data files are kept.

To use it, simply type:

INCEPT.EXE [path] [/P#] [/M] [/L] [/C][/0F][/ND][/NP][/NA]

[path] - the directory that contains your game data.

[/p#] - the player number you which to analyse ( * = reads all player data that is available)
( . = current directory)

/M /MONO - display in monocrome.

/L /LIST - Briefly lists all enemy ships, with ID#, Owner, Location, Warp, Heading, shortened name and hull name, current net weight, Projected distance to the PD, and PD.

/C /CUT - removes headings and excessive information for a reduced report output when you start getting several pages of interception reports.

/0F /0FUEL - removes ships without fuel from the report.

/ND /NODEP - removes the Estimated Departure information.

/NP /NOPRO - removes the single Projected Destination line.

/NA /NOARM - removes the Closest Armed Ship line from the report.

/IR### - ignores specified races of ships ( /ir123456789ab )

Player information must be unpacked first by using UNPACK.EXE The best method, is to run INCEPT.EXE and print out the output file, so the information is ready when you run PLANETS.EXE

These files are required by INCEPT.EXE
UNIVERSAL DATA FILES (game directory or current directory):

XYPLAN.DAT - xy coordinates of starfield
PLANET.NM - planet's names
RACE.NM - race's names
HULLSPEC.DAT - hull names

PLAYER DATA FILES (in specified game path):

PLAYER##.RST - players result packet file
or
INIT.TMP - lists which players RST's are unpacked
SHIP##.DAT - the player's ship data
PDATA##.DAT - which planets the player owns
TARGET##.DAT - data on visible enemy ships
SHIPXY##.DAT - data on ship masses
GEN##.DAT - turn number

INCEPT.INI - ignore ships are specified this can be in the game or current directory

The output file produced by INCEPT.EXE is:

INCEPT##.TXT - this file is generated in the player data files directory. Previous output files are renamed as BAK files

- WHAT SORT OF OUTPUT IS GENERATED? --------------------------------------

Turn number 23. Interception report for The Solar Federation

1/ 3 | Who: Privateer | XY: 1707, 2645 | Warp 9 | Heading: 210
ID# 43 | Name: More Death to all... | Hull: BLOODFANG CLASS CARRIER
Devices: None | Weight: 167/ 270 kt
-- POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS -----------------------------------------------------
Target Name Prob Distance Turns X ,Y Heading Projected
P 89 Lynx Ceti 100% 32.24 1 1691,2617 209.74 In Range
*P452 Helios 20% 289.63 4 1566,2392 209.13 1667,2574w
*S 8 Survey 8 20% 289.63 4 1566,2392 209.13 1667,2574w
*S 19 Cruiser 19 20% 289.63 4 1566,2392 209.13 1667,2574w
Projected destination.... 81.01 1 ----,---- 210,00 1666,2574
-- POSSIBLE DEPARTURES -------------------------------------------------------
Depart Name Prob Distance Turns X ,Y Heading
P 60 Graf 100% 81.08 1 1676,2069 30.66
Closest armed ship: ID6 at 189.32 LY

2/ 3 | Who: Bird Man | XY: 1391, 2411 | Warp 9 | Heading: -
ID# 41 | Name: Friendly neighbour | Hull: DETH SPECULA CLASS FRIGATE
Devices: None | Weight: 201/ 175 kt
-- POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS -----------------------------------------------------
Target Name Prob Distance Turns X ,Y Heading Projected
*P332 Kaye's World 999% 0.00 1 1391,2411 - NONE
*S 21 Destroyer 21 999% 0.00 1 1391,2411 - NONE
Projected destination.... 0.00 1 1391,2411 (NO WAYPOINT)
Closest armed ship: ID21 at 0.0 LY


3/ 3 | Who: Cyborg | XY: 2548, 2851 | Warp 9 | Heading: 126
ID# 26 | Name: Jumper | Hull: B200 CLASS PROBE
Devices: Hyper | NetWeight: 70/ 95 kt
-- POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS -----------------------------------------------------
Target Name Prob Distance Turns X ,Y Heading Projected
P 17 Alkalurops 459 100% 40.80 1 2581,2827 126.03 In Range
Projected destination.... 80.80 1 ----,---- 126.00 2613,2803
-- HYPERSPACIAL PRESENCE -----------------------------------------------------
Hyper Name Prob Distance Turns X ,Y Heading
*P140 Rappaport 100% 352.46 1 2197,2883 275.21
P144 Antilia 100% 348.49 1 2878,2963 71.25
*S 37 The Big Gun 100% 348.74 1 2224,2722 248.29
Closest armed ship: ID37 at 348.74 LY

- EXPLANATION OF EXAMPLE: ------------------------------------------------

All visible enemy ships are examined, here there were two. Each record is marked at the top left corner. The rest of the header is information gained from the data files. This gives the details:

(*) who owns it
(*) current location in XY coordinates
(*) current warp speed
(*) heading (rounded off by HOST)
(*) ID number
(*) the ship's name
(*) the hull type (Super Freighter, PL21 Probe...)
(*) the attached devices on the hull (hyperspacial, gravitonic, cloaking, terraform 50, and terraform 100)
(*) netweight/maxweight. The netweight of the ship is = fuel + cargo + weapons. The maxweight = maximum fuel + maximum cargo. The maximum weapon weight was not added because it cannot be calculated without knowing the actual weapon type, and the number of weapons on board.

When looking at the first example, the most important thing to note is the hull type. Its a carrier. The second ship is apparently a friendly ship hanging in orbit of one of my planets. The third ship is a hyperspacial ship. Its possible to guess where it may have just come from if it just came of a jump, or if its aligning itself for a jump to one of my own planets.

The information is what was generated by INCEPT.EXE.

-- POSSIBLE DESTINATIONS -----------------------------------------------------
Target Name Prob Distance Turns X ,Y Heading Projected
*P452 Helios 20% 289.63 4 1566,2392 209.13 1667,2574w

In order from left to right,

(*) TARGET, DEPART, HYPER. "P" stands for planet. "S" stands for ship. "*" stands for yours. So a "*P" is your planet. A plain "P" is just a planet (another player could possibly inhabit this planet) The number following is the ID code of the planet or ship.
(*) NAME. This is what the planet or ship is called (With ships, the hull name of you own ships is Not listed)
(*) PROB. This is the estimated percentage of chance that the ship is headed towards this target. The closer, and the less deviation in heading, the higher the percentage will be, and the more likely it is headed to that target. When the probability shows up as 999% (as in the second example) it means that the ship has no waypoint set (no heading or no warp factor set). Its distance should show up as 0.00
(*) DISTANCE. This the measurement of how far away it is in Light Years (LY).
(*) TURNS. This is how many months or turns the ship is away from reaching this target at its current warp speed.
(*) X Y. This is the XY coordinate of the target.
(*) HEADING. This is the actual heading to two decimal places that the target lies from the enemy ship.
(*) PROJECTED. A secondary form of Projected destination listed below.


Finally is the "Projected destination" or PD. The are two type of Projected Destination's. The Projected destination and the Planetary projected destination (for Possible Destinations).
The Projected Destination is the calculated destination of that enemy ship for the next turn, provided it does not change heading (ie. change waypoint), or change warp factor. This is useful for cloaked ships attempting to intercept without having de-cloak. So far the projected destination has been very accurate in testing.
Previously I has found that sometimes a ship would travel further than as calculated but this has been solved.

Firstly the Projected Destination.

This is a plain projection using the current heading of the ship to pin point where it would end up next turn if it was headed into DEEP SPACE. This heading unfortunately is rounded off, so the heading is less than accurate but when the enemy ship isn't headed toward a planet, its the most accurate calculation there is.

Last is the Planetary projected destination.

To overcome errors in the rounded heading, if a ship is assumed to be to headed toward a particular planet, a more accurate heading is used to calculate the projected destination within one turn.

Distance Turns X ,Y Heading Projected
Projected destination.... 81.01 1 ----,---- 210,00 1666,2574

If a PD has a "w" or "wý" marked after it, such as:

1667,2574w

the PD is within a Planetary Gravity Well, and if the Host has the settings for the Well turned on, then the ship will actually end up at the planet and not at the PD. As HOST 3.1x and 3.2x use different rules for warp well, I've had to use two differnt tokens in to define between them.

"w" represents a gravity well for only HOST versions 3.1x.
"wý" represents bost HOST versions 3.1x and 3.2x.

Closest armed ship. This information I've just developed, so comments are welcome. Its basic purpose is to find an armed ship that would reach the enemy ship the quickest to allow fast interception. Currently the information for this only lists the ID of the nearest ship and how far away it is.

Closest armed ship: ID37 at 348.74 LY

- STRATEGIES AND HINTS ---------------------------------------------------

When playing against other players who also use this program to keep track of ship movements, its best to use the old tried-and-true method of submarine evasion used late in the second millenium, on Earth during the period know as the Second World War.

Ships basically perform a zigzag pattern, never headed directly towards their target, but always moving in the general direction. This way enemies won't know where you are going unless they watch a ships movements for several turns, and by that time the ship will have reached its final destination.
Because of this, cloaked vessels won't be able to do manual interceptions.

- HISTORY ----------------------------------------------------------------

þ version 1.0 released: 20-10-94

Written in basic.
Listed possible destinations.
Calculated Projected Destination.

þ version 1.0a released: 09-11-94

Re-coded program into C.
Added possible departures listing.
Added multiple player processing (/P* switch)
Removed debugging information
Changed processing to % instead of .'s
Added batch file error levels.
Lists player name in report.
Added devices and ship weights to report.
Added second calculation to PD to provided second PD if ship travelled 1 LY further (unknown bug caused by host)

þ version 1.0b released: 11-11-94

Reformed report format for easy of use.

þ version 1.0c 20-11-94

Found solution to 1LY error, and got 100% correct PD calculation.
To overcome possible rounding error in ship heading, introduced new
PD for each Possible Destination listing using their headings.
Added Hyperspacial waring.
Added turn number to report.
Made old report files renamed with BAK extension.

þ version 1.0d released: 22-11-94

Added /CUT switch to remove non-vital headings from report.
Added INI file for specifying which ships have special devices.
Added Ignore field to INI file, to ignore specified ship ID's.
Added closest armed ship to enemy ship to report.
Changed destination of report to that of specified directory.

þ version 1.0e not publicly released.

Added /M switch to display information without colours.

þ version 1.0f released: 14-12-94

Fixed bug in reading INI file.
Added /LIST switch to briefly list enemy ship data.

þ version 1.0g released: 20-12-94

Added /NOPRO switch and as a INI Field to remove projected destination line.
Added /NODEP switch and as a INI Field to remove possible departure listing.
Added /NOARM switch and INI Field to remove closest armed ship line.
Added /LIST switch as a INI Field.
Added /0FUEL to remove ships without fuel from report.
Added 0FUEL as additional setting for the INI IGNORE Field.
Modified LIST, added ship weight.
Corrected Projected Destination turns amount.
Added /IR##### switch and IR# setting to INI IGNORE field for ignoring whole race's of ships.

þ version 3.00 released: TO BE DECIDED

Problem with 1g in compiled EXE code, will be fixed this time.
Removed that Ugly (BETA) from the version number.
Major Bug in INI reading code, fixed it, works better than before.
Removed INI settings for Gravitonics, Hyperspacial, Cloaking, and Terraforming. These were for future possibility of Tim deciding to allow different ships to change these attributes.
The planned RST file reader was coded, so both RST and unpacked data can be read simultaneously.
Planetary Gravity Well correction code was made, although I wanted to display the actual change in PD, some Hosts will play with Gravity Wells turned off, so then the correction would then be incorrect, so only a token marker was made to show whether the PD was affected by a Gravity well.
Late coding added for launching a EXE or COM file after INCEPT is finished, and passing the last report filename as a parameter. Later when I develop the program to incorporate all available race data, only on report will be made, and this idea will make more sense.

- COMMENTS ---------------------------------------------------------------

Ok, I'm out of the Beta stage. Took a while to make me happy with the program as it is. But there are always bugs, and this is done in C, so I'm expecting something, but don't know what. As usual, if you have any ideas (or found bug), email me, I'll listen.

Any ideas, comments, suggestions for future versions or this documentation would be appreciated, no matter how bizarre.

- DISCLAIMERS ------------------------------------------------------------

This program should not in any way damage your game data or computer, the only file it writes to is the output text file. But, I cannot guarantee that this program won't damage or cause loss of data. I cannot be held responsible for your own actions in the use of this software.

This program is Freeware. Nothing has been removed to reduce the program's usability. It is a full, complete program. This program may be distributed freely in its original unaltered form, by itself or with other programs. It may NOT be sold for profit or revenue without the authors (that's me) express permission. Tested INCEPT with Winplan, no known problems.

- WHERE TO GET AN ORIGINAL COPY FROM -------------------------------------

Maybe you have lost it, hacked it, patched it, deleted it, erased it, formatted it, copied over it, moved it, or just lost it in transmission.

Well you can get it on the internet by FTP'ing to:

  • risc11.cahs.colostate.edu (off-line at the time)
  • ftp.fu-berlin.de /pub/pc/msdos/games/vgaplanets/
  • ftp.uwp.edu (unknown)
  • ftp.erg.sri.com /pub/pbm/vga_planets/
  • gate.net /pub/users/shander/VGAPlanets/

or by FTP mail to

"Carsten Pinnow" <carnivor@dobag.in-berlin.de>

with the subject heading (without the quotes). "sendme incept" or emailing to me (see address's below) and I'll send it back UUencoded (or by another format as specified) If you have access to a BBS, good luck because I have no idea who'd have this.

Maybe it'll be on TIM's BBS "Tim Continuum" at (209) 877-4921. If you don't have access to these wonderful things then I wondering how you got this program in the first place. If this is so, just send me money (about US$ 5) for postage and an address, then I'll mail it back to you on its own disk to your specification.

- HOW TO CONTACT ME ------------------------------------------------------

Any correspondence can be addressed to:

Chris Holz
http://www.midspace.com

This program is freeware, so distribute it freely (NO CHARGE).

- END OF FILE ------------------------------------------------------------

 

 
 
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