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VGA Planets FAQ


 

The Game Cycle

  • Host runs, HST and TRN files from the game are used to make new RST files
  • The RST files are sent out over the internet to the players, by Email, BBS, FTP or IRC
  • The Player uses UNPACK.EXE or WINPLAN.EXE to break the RST file up into data files that can be read by the players client program (PLANETS.EXE or WINPLAN.EXE)
  • The game is played by the player using the PLANETS.EXE or WINPLAN.EXE program
  • The Player uses MAKETURN.EXE or WINPLAN.EXE to package up all the data into a TRN file
  • The TRN file is transfered back to the HOST person by Email, BBS, FTP or IRC
  • The Host person gathers up the incoming TRN files and places them in the game data directory with the HST files for the game and gets ready to run host.
  • The cycle repeats
 

The Host

The Host person is an experienced VGA Planets person that handles:

  • The rolling up of the universe (the MASTER.EXE Program)
  • The signing up of players
  • The setting up of the game configuration ( HCONFIG.EXE )
  • The adding and setup of any add-ons to be used
  • Handles problems and conflicts between players
  • Send out RST files to the players
  • Collects TRN froms from the players

The Player

Things that a beginning player might do includes:

  • Download the Winplan Shareware or DOS Shareware version of VGA Planets
  • Find a new game and sign up.
  • Download his first PLAYER?.RST file from the host person's internet site, BBS or from an Email attachment.
  • Unpack the RST file.
  • Play out the turn using Winplan or PLANETS.EXE
  • Make his TRN file and set it back to the host
  • Wait for the next RST to come back from the host person

Getting Going

DOS

  1. Download the DOS Shareware version of the game.
  2. PKUNZIP the file
  3. Run INSTALL.EXE
  4. Get your first RST file from your host
  5. Place the RST file in the directory that you have installed VGA Planets DOS
  6. Run: UNPACK.EXE
  7. Run: PLANETS.EXE
  8. Play out your turn and exit PLANETS.EXE
  9. Run: MAKETURN.EXE
  10. Send your first TRN file to your host.

Windows

  1. Download the Windows Shareware version of the game (Winplan)
  2. PKUNZIP the file
  3. Run SETUP.EXE
  4. Get your first RST file from your host
  5. Click a game slot and point your RST and TRN paths at the RST file where ever it is on your computer.
  6. Click then UNPACK button
  7. Click Play current game
  8. Play out your turn and exit the main race screen
  9. Click MAKETURN button
  10. Send your first TRN file to your host (Your TRN will show up at what ever path you have selected on the game select screen)

Details

List of all RST files

player1.rst The Solar Federation
player2.rst The Lizards
player3.rst The Birdmen
player4.rst The Fascists
player5.rst The Privateers
player6.rst The Cyborg
player7.rst The Crystal People
player8.rst The Evil Empire
player9.rst The Robots
player10.rst The Rebels
player11.rst The Colonies


The TURN Files

These are the names of the TRN ( TURN files ) used in VGA Planets:

player1.trn The Solar Federation
player2.trn The Lizards
player3.trn The Birdmen
player4.trn The Fascists
player5.trn The Privateers
player6.trn The Cyborg
player7.trn The Crystal People
player8.trn The Evil Empire
player9.trn The Robots
player10.trn The Rebels
player11.trn The Colonies

These are the files that contain your new commands, such as build orders and combat and movement orders. The file for the race that you are playing must be transferred to the machine that is hosting the game, in some cases this machine is a remote BBS. Most BBS machines running the game use a DOOR program that sorts the RST files that you are to download and sends your TRN files that upload to the correct game directory.

If you are playing on a large network that allows file transfers between users, such as AOL or CompuServe, you can attach your TRN file to a Email message and send it to the HOST user. They will download your TRN file and place it in the correct directory for processing by the HOST.EXE program. They will then send you a Email message back with your RST file attached to it so that you can play your next turn.


Game File Exchange

Players upload their turn (TRN) files to the host BBS or Email account. The host runs the actual calculations involved, and produces a result (RST) files that are sent back to the players. The players run the local program to view their situation and set up their orders for the next turn.

Players then run an UNPACK program that decodes and expands the game result file (RST) into several data files. Then the main program PLANETS/WINPLAN is run to play the game. When you are playing the game you can order your starships around, build new starships, receive messages and do many other fascinating activities.

When a player has completed their game turn they run MAKETURN that packs the new data into a TRN file that is sent back to the host computer. After the TRN files from all the players are gathered into one directory by the person hosting the game the program HOST is ran to decode all the TRN files at once. New RST files are generate by the HOST program. These new RST files are then sent back to all the players.

NOTE: If any player miss out on a turn the game will continue just fine. Their ships and planets will continue performing their last order. Ships will continue the same course and speed and planets will continue to mine minerals and produce supplies. A missed turn can't be made up! The host cannot use old TRN files. They are meaningless to the host.


Host Program

All the TRN files of the players from all the players who are taking part in the current turn must be in the game data directory when you run HOST.

You can only run HOST once per game turn.

TRN files from other games are rejected by HOST and erased.

A person hosting a game called me up and told me about the following problem:

Nine people are currently playing a game. One person somehow lost their RST file. So they had the person hosting the game run HOST again. The player with the missing file then put the new RST file on floppy and went home. They next day everyone puts all ten of their TRN files in the host directory and HOST is run. Everyone notices none of their new commands are recognized and the HOST says all but one file is stale. What went wrong?

Answer: When HOST was run the second time all old TRN files and RST files became stale files from last turn. Only the player that lost the RST has a fresh file after they grabbed the new RST file after the HOST program ran. All ten of the other players missed TWO turns because of this. The last turn because they had not turned in their TRN files yet and the current turn because the files that they did turn in were stale and had to be rejected.

ONLY RUN HOST ONCE PER TURN.

You may wish to make a backup directory to store all the current RST files after you run HOST, just in case someone loses their RST file.

Don't let anyone talk you into running HOST before the players have sent in their current TRN files.

HOST needs all the TRN files all the players who are going to be in on the current game turn, because all the action and interaction between players TAKES PLACE AT ONCE, when HOST is run.

Stale File: A RST or TRN from a previous game turn. The HOST program rejects all stale TRN files. The player with the stale file will miss a turn. If you unpack a stale RST file, all your data files will be stale and you will end up producing a stale TRN file when you run MAKETURN.

Fresh File: A RST or TRN from the current game turn.

When a person misses a game turn, they MUST get a fresh RST file from the host computer. Or they will end up making a stale TRN file.


BBS Host Sysop

Just how many turns there are per day are completely up to the person hosting the game. You may wish to have only one game turn per day. If you are a sysop you may wish to just put in a little batch file that is run every day at clean up time that has your machine copy all the PLAYER TRN files into the proper directory, perform a game turn ( run HOST ) and copy the PLAYER RST files into a directory from which the players can then download their file.
If the host crashes while running it will log the error to the error log file and exit to dos.

When you have 350K or more of free memory you can run HOST 3.20 from a DOS shell.

The game administrator has the option when first starting the game to give each race their own password, so that even if a player downloads another player's RST file that player will be unable to open it without the real player's password.

Players can change their password during their turn, but the change does not take effect until the next turn. Players can also turn off the password check by changing the password to "NOPASSWORD".

I strongly advise the sysop set up the BBS so that the TRN files can only be uploaded by the proper players, unless you feel that you can trust your players.

For example:

I am player 2 ( The Lizard Player ). The file that I upload to
the BBS host computer is "PLAYER2.TRN". The file that I download from the
BBS host is "PLAYER2.RST". Nobody else should be able to upload a file named
"PLAYER2.TRN" and mess up my turn.

There are not several very good door programs that makes setting up BBS games very easy.

Many sysops compress the PLAYER RST files using PKZIP, ARJ or LHA to make RST download times faster.

 

Independent Host

(Non-Sysop host, Net Host or AOL user)

An independent host is a BBS user ( or a Net user ) that is hosting a VGA Planets game on their own computer. The independent host uses the BBS only for a means of transferring the RST and TRN files to and from all the players in the game. One easy way of moving the files around is to attach the files to Email.

Once a day the person acting as the independent host downloads all the TRN files sent to him from all the players in the game. The files are moved into the planets data directory and HOST is run. The result files (RST) are then mailed back to all the players.

The independent host should be sure to tell all the players what time the TRN files have to be in by, when the next turn will take place and when they can log back onto the BBS to pick up their new RST file.


Planets On One Computer

A group of people can set up a game on one computer and take turns playing out their turn. After everyone has had their chance to play out their turn the windows game administrator will then run the MAKETURN program by clicking the MAKETURN command button. The TRN files are then moved to the game universe directory. HOST.EXE is then run. The HOST program absorbs all the players TRN at once and produces new RST files. The game administrator then runs the UNPACK command in the PLANETS game list windows to have the PLANETS program recognize the new game data files. Players can then again take turns playing out their turn.


1. MAKETURN
2. HOST
3. UNPACK
4. Play PLANETS
goto 1


Planets On Many Computers in the Same Building

Every Windows machine running VGA Planets version 3.5 requires its own registered copy of VGA Planets. If you install the same program (same serial number) on more than one machine the players using the same registered copy will be destroyed by something called “The Tim Continuum”

All the computers must have the planets player files installed in a directory. One computer must act as host and have the host files installed. You can use a network to transfer RST and TRN file back and forth or you can use a pair of floppies.

Using a pair of floppies:

Label floppy one "RST result files".

Place the "RST result files" floppy into the host computer and copy all the RST files from the Planets directory onto it.

Pass the floppy around to each player so that they can copy the file that belongs to them into their Planets directory.


AN EXAMPLE:

Player 2, the Lizard player, has the game installed in
directory c:\PLANETS

The Lizard places the "RST result files" floppy into drive a:
copy a:\player2.rst c:\planets

The Lizard player then passes the floppy along to the next
player who hasn't yet gotten their RST file yet.

Players must run UNPACK to decode the RST into data files. The players may then run PLANETS and play the game. After finishing their turn they exit the game and run MAKETURN that generates a new TRN file.

Label floppy two "TRN the players turns".

Pass "TRN the players turns" around to each player that has finished their game turn and ran MAKETURN already. The players then copy the TRN file in their game directory onto the floppy and pass the floppy along to the next player.


AN EXAMPLE:

Player 1, the federation player, has the game installed in
the directory c:\PLANETS

The fed player places the floppy "TRN the player turns"
in drive a:

copy c:\planets\player1.trn a:

The fed player then passes the floppy along to the next player.


After all the TRN files are gathered, they are all copied into the host's data directory from the floppy "TRN the players turns".

The game administrator will then run HOST. This will decode all the TRN files and generation brand new RST files.

The whole cycle repeats . . .


Host Paths

Version 3 is the ability to specify a path to where the data files for the game are stored. All VGA Planets DOS programs will accept a path. If you do not specify a path the programs will look for the data in the current directory.

master dirname

Where "dirname" is the name of the directory where this VGA Planets game's data files are to reside. If "dirname" does not exist, MASTER.EXE will create it if it can. It is recommended that an empty directory be used for new games of VGA Planets.

In case you are hosting more than one game of VGA Planets, you should know that the data files for each game MUST be kept in separate directories! If you run MASTER.EXE and specify a directory containing a VGA Planets game-in-progress, the game-in-progress will be lost, overwritten by the newly started game.

MASTER.EXE allows the host to control several key game parameters:

  • which races will be participating?
  • whether or not each race will have a starting password.
  • whether friendly codes on planets will be randomized.
  • range of starting distances between homeworlds.
  • mineral richness of all homeworlds.
  • the starting population of the planet
  • starting engine tech level for all homeworlds' starbases.

These parameters cannot be changed without destroying the game and starting over.
You don't really need to use the path option unless you are running more the one game. By using the path option you can have many games running at once on your machine and use very little extra disk space.

When you run MASTER with a path all the data important to a game will be moved to the game data directory.

You can zip up all the files in the game data directory and move them to another computer, if you should ever need to move a game to another computer.

All the EXE programs will look for game data at the path given and they will also look for the static data files in the current directory. The static data files are installed on your hard drive when you install the game.


Example: ( INSTALLING THREE GAMES )

You have installed the game on your hard drive at C:\PLANETS
c:
cd \planets
mkdir game1 <- you make the directory for the game
master game1 <- make the game universe
host game1 <- make the first set of RST files

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

< Time out while you play your turn >


RUN WINPLAN


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

< START A SECOND GAME >
mkdir game2
master game2
host game2

< START A THIRD GAME >
mkdir game3
master game3
host game3

< you now have three games going >

____ game1
|
c:\planets\-+---- game2
|
---- game3


Example: ( MOVING GAME ONE TO ANOTHER MACHINE )

cd \planets\game1
pkzip game1.zip *.*

give game1.zip to the other sysop

 

 
 
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