June 2006 (updated March 2008) Version 1.1
Email: bitmask @ innernet .co.za
4. Things to do when you start a new
game (Game Setup in EV)
5. Where is the Help?
6. Sending selected Echoview data to
7. Changing the Race Colors
8. Using Line Styles
9. Starmap Options
12. Stardock ship cost
13. Select allies
14. Alliance status
19. Fleet Summary
24. Minefield Simulator
26. Scan for Planet
Everybody who plays VGA Planets use Echoview, so why would
you ask is this guide needed? I have found that most players only use a small
amount of Echoview features, and don’t even know about all the “Nice stuff”
that will make you playing easier and save you time playing a turn.
With this in mind, I’m not going to explain how to install Echoview or the things everyone know, but rather assume that
you have already installed it in you Planets folder and that you use the common
features (like looking at the cool picture and clicking on planets and ships). I will also try and keep it as simple as possible.
Please send me any comments you might have.
Anyone is welcome to use, copy or
publish this guide. If you do publish this guide, it would be nice to get a e-mail from you so that I can send you updates in future.
Thanks to Cardno for doing some proof reading and for his comments.
Thanks to Mika for his comments and his section on the Minefield Simulator.
Thanks to Commodore Cherek, IRJTN for his comments and the section on the Status Window under Lists.
Set the Race colors
Set the Starmap Options
Set the Game Options
Set the Add-on in use
Set your allies – when you get them
Many players think that Echoview does not have a help. In
fact the help is very good and easily available. In the normal menu, the help
can be found an the farthest upper right hand corner,
just below the window’s minimize, expand and exit buttons. Most screens also
have quick help buttons, once they are opened.
What ever the reason might be (ally, friend and accomplice), you want to send some data to another player in the same
game without sending him your RST file. This is easily done if both players use
Echoview (Everybody does!).
Under the File menu, click on Export EV data and the export
screen will open.
In this screen you can choose the information on what and of
whom you want to export information. This export has nothing to do with to who
you send the information to.
For each race you want to export data for, you select what
you want to export [Minefield,Ship, Base, Planet]
and then also the general data you want to export. Here I have selected
everything about the Fascist, Cyborg, Empire and
Colonies as well as all data about Iron Storms and Explosions. Remember that
this will only export known information that is showed in Echoview. If I have
not seen any Cyborg ship, no Cyborg ship will be in the Export.
Just click Save and a file will be created in your Game
folder (e.g. c:\plan1\VPWork1) with the name evport*.dat where * is your race number from 1 – 11. ((e.g.
c:\plan1\VPWork1\evport10.dat if I am the Rebels)
You need to send this evport*.dat file to the other player. He needs to setup you as an
ally (see the section about select
allies) and then use the “Load Allied Files” option under the Tools,
Select Allies or under File, Load Allied Files.
Under the Options menu, choose Colors and then Race Colors.
In this screen you can setup the race colors for each races’ ships and planets. The default is everybody red and your ships and planets are
yellow and white. The problem with this is it is difficult to look at your
starmap and see which race is doing what where.
I suggest you give each race a unique color.
player suggested that he sets the colors the same as the score graph in ITA/Ascore which is what I have in the example below.
option that I like is to set the other race colors unique, but when I start an
attack or selected which race will be the enemy (Or they selected it for me!),
then I set all my enemies to Red. It’s kind of like a bull attacking the red
flag, but it works for me.
Now if you don’t want to set the custom colors for each game
you are starting, you need to save your colors as the default. This is where
you will get confused, because you spend 5 min setting your colors, press the
Save Default and the program changes your colors. Agh!!
Don’t worry they are not gone yet! Just restart Echoview, return to this screen
and press the Load Default button to get your colors back.
Whenever you start a new game, you will have to come to the Race Color screen and just say Load Default to get them set.
I don’t use line styles enough, but it can be a big help. If
your screen is being cluttered by turn 15+ by ship movements and histories,
using different line styles can stop you from making a mistake.
Nice ways to use it is to change your line style for HYPerjump ships (Dashed) and Chunneling ships (Dotted), while your normal movement stay a
This option is also under Options, then Line Styles
This is by far one of the most important setup screens in
Echoview and luckily most players have a good understanding here and the
defaults are fine. Whatever is displayed on the starmap is configured here. The
important options that you might want to play with are: Warpcircles,
Ship history, Ships, Planets and Scan. The rest should be fine for 99% of
players so I will not cover them.
WarpCircles – These are the
concentric circles you see around a ship or planet when you click on them in
the starmap and are on by default. Warpcircles (grav) will only be used by the Privateer player and someone who got their hands on a MBR or BR by whatever luck. The (grav) option will of course show gravatonic warp circles. The Hyper warpcircle is VERY important
for any player with HYP ships (Borg, Empire & Rebel). It will show the
350LY HYPerjump circle and also the minimum (340LY)
and maximum (360LY) allowed jump circles. The min and max circles are useful
for scouting which planet a Probe/Falcon can jump to AND hit the planet (i.e.
not landing up in space and showing your location)
Ship history – This shows the history of ship
movement on the starchart. If the line become too
much on the screen, decrease these numbers (It is only for showing information,
all historic data is still saved). The actual history is the history info in
the ship window and you can user the F3/ Shift-F3 to see where a ship was at a previous turn.
Ships – here is one feature that you might want to
use, and that is the ship class. Ship will have different shapes according to
their class and different symbol size according to the ship mass.
Planets – These options switch on the showing of values
on the starmap for each planet. If you turn them all on, you will be bombarded
with information. I would suggest using them like a toggle and only turn those
on that you need when you need them and them turning them off again. For that
it is better to use the button bar in the main window, but it does not have all
the options. Planets & Planetnames should be used
and if you want Planetnumbers. I also use the
Temperature option – it will show a thermometer next to the planet with its
temperature and will have a thin green bar going along the thermometer if the
planet will have a growth rate (i.e. planets that are not Ice planets or desert
For the rest I use the button bar in the main
window to toggle the values. By default I use the Native option to show the
natives in the starmap (These planets you will want to focus on for their money
and other value. The minerals I toggle one at a time to find the nice planets
and then build you supply route from there. The toggle G/S can be useful to see
what planet has large ore bodies underground, as well as stock piles already
Scan – Very little players use this function, but I
like it a lot. It highlights the area that you have scan coverage on the
starmap. Default color is a blue. You may think that that is not valuable
information; because ships or planets picked up in you scan range will show on
the starmap anyway? That is true, but the real value is in what is not in your
scan range. Any planet outside your scan range will also not see you. This may
give you the information you need to decide if you are going to send your ship
the short route where it will be visible, or the longer planet hopping route.
There are three important options under Options, Config that is useful. “Autoload allied files” will load your allied rst files
automatically – you don’t have to go and click the button each turn, just place
the rst files in you game folder and unpack them. “Reload
on Activate” will reload the information each time you switch the focus back toEchoview. If you switch between your Planets client
and Echoview between each move like me, then this is
a useful feature. Echoview will show the changes you
just made & saved in your client. “Autosave data
on exit” will save your data. You do know what you are doing, right? Even if
you make mistakes, you still want to save all the information to have a good
history of what happens. You can retrace your enemies moves and decipher his gameplan? The rest are all the
flavor of the day. Use what you like and don’t use what you don’t like.
There are three utilities catered for in Echoview:RandMax, PWrap & Starbase+. I’m not going to say anything about RandMax (Rather use Tanascius’s tool! Easier to use/setup and does more. ).
PWrap is very usefull,
even if you use another wrap add-on like sphere. The options and result should
that the same for most. The important thing here is that using this option in Echoview will actually duplicate your starmap next the
original one in all directions, giving you very clear X,Y coordinates to move
your ship too (You need to populate the correct setup for your game or your
results will be incorrect). This give you the ability to move your ship over
the wrap to a planet without ending up in space because you don’t know the
exact coordinates to move to (you can always just add/subtract your wrap value
to either X or Y).
Turning on the Starbase+ options
will use it in predictions whenever you use those features in your game. This
is useful for minefield simulations.
Stardock ship cost simulator
The stardock is a useful feature
for planning your ship building. You can see exactly how many credits and
minerals you will need for build that carrier that you want so much. It is very
easy to use so I will not go into detail here. Just read the total values for
the option your specified. There is one feature that is easily overlooked, but
very useful. Clicking the bases button will show you all the Starbases you own that can build this ship in this turn. SO
if I needed to build a Rush this turn, I can give the specifications to Stardock, see the costs and click the bases button to list
all my bases where I have enough credits and minerals to build my Rush this
This option let you specify your allies. If you receive rst or Echoview Export files and
you want their content shown on your starmap, then you need to specify that
race as your ally. You highlight the races you want as your allies. This will
not send these players any information from you, except if you asked Echoview to do so under Messages or alliance Status. [See
the Alliance Status or Messages options below]
This option will show you the allied settings for your
current game. If you are playing with TimHost, only
the A will be used. PHost has more different alliance
levels that can be used. I normally use the friendly codes in the game for
setting up alliances as these in Echoview is not sent
to the host for changing ally status. You can however use the option "Send
Informer alliance information" for sending a message to your allies with a
list of all you planets. Their Echoview will scan
this message and use it to set your planets in their Starmap. They can do the
same for you. This setting is only helpful in TimHost,
because PHost has a planet-level alliance.
; S: Ship
Level; P: Planet
Level; M: Minefield
Level; C: Combat
Level; V: Vision
If you have a race that can build Hyperjump ships, then this tool will be useful to you.
With the Hyperjump tool open,
click on a planet you want to jump from. You now have two options. You can ask
the tool to show you all planets that you can jump to (in one jump) by clicking
on the Planet button or you can skip it if you already now where you want to
go. Click on your destination planet as well and it should show up under
Destination. When you click to Jump button your options will be shown. You will
have the choice of a a)single jump, b) single with startpoint/offset or two
different options for a double jump. The “Jump to” value is the one you want to
use to set your waypoint in your client program.
Most client programs do give you distance options, but
sometimes you want to look at the starmap and measure the gap between planets before
you even have a ship close. Especially in the Famous Rift Map where every
player go and measure the rift to see if they can’t cross over without being
seen, even though they know there is no such crossing point there.
The lists options give a many lists of object that Echoview has recorded throughout the game. If you for instance want to see all the ships, or bases, or planets that you own as well as what you have found from any other player, then you just go to that option. There is also a history of the score similar to what ITA/Ascore will give you.
There is also a Status View option. This window will give you information in any new ships that you have
not scanned before. It gives the ship location, Ship ID, Race, ship
name and hull type. This is good for spotting enemy re-enforcements
headed your way. It also shows your combat results for the current turn. There are some other
items that can be viewed also, but new ships entering my scan area is
the most useful in my opinion.
The score in Echoview is very
good. It remembers the previous score and then give you nice indications where what changed. For instance if you look at the
Robots: They have 2 starbases, but they only build 1
ship. If there was a explosion this turn, you can interpret it that the Robots
did build 2 ships, but only have one to the score because someone blow up their
ship. Now you know who that destroyed ship belonged to and the area they are
active in (the area of the explosion). There are more information here you can
use in the same way, but I will leave that up to you to decipher.
This is a very useful feature under the List options to use
while preparing an attack or summing up your enemy. Here is an example of one
for an enemy.
As you can see, I know 2 of the 10 planets that this player
own, 1 of his 4 bases, 5 of his 13 Capital ships and 4 freighters. (He only has
10 planets. So that will give me 1 SB every 2 planets?)
It then also lists the 9 ships I know about. There is also
more information about planets and natives, etc. but they will not be so useful
for an enemy if you have not done some serious spying. Use this information to
calculate what ships you will need and how you will attack him.
To learn a bit more about the VPI index I suggest you read up about it here. It will give you an indication of how good an economy is.
The Specs options list you the details for your Hulls, Engins, Beams & Torpedoes. It's all very boring, but when you play in a game with custom Specs, this is very useful information to have.
Most of the option under Messages does not really interest me. I do not use them for anything usefull in 95% of the games.
The planets screen can be opened by double clicking on any planet. It's really only useful for planets you know some information about, and very useful on planets that you own.
The Starbase option (if you have a SB at that planet) does not really give you anything to do, but tells you what the Starbase is building as well as it's tech levels.
PopInfo is used for 3 things: You will see the Colonist needed for growth (Anything less than that your colonist will not increase in numbers) as well as the colonist needed to make the most of your Natives tax capability. The more you require, the better your Native are at being your cash cow. Growth Tax is what you want to aim for. (You can read a VGAP guide on economy if you don't know why). You will also see your Max. Colonist/ Native the planet can support. Anything more that that and they will die off by the clans.
Defences is a nice option to see what your planet will be like when it goes into battle. Depending on your Defence posts your will have better Beams and more fighters.
The turn option at the bottom is nice to see some future predictions. Use it to see how your mines will produce minerals if you are saving for that special ship to build. It will also show your supplies and Natives/Colonist happiness changes.
You can open the Ship Screen by double clicking on any ship. There are only a few things available here that you do not find in most VGAP clients. The rest are normally in your client also, but it's nice to see them here in one place also. If you select the Ship Class, it will display to you all the information about that ship class. This is similar to selecting that hull in the hull specs. The other useful thing is the History. Play around with it and you will like it.
Sometimes it is rather boring to calculate the correct size of a
minefield. In Echoview you just have to press F9 to see how the
minefields (including the ones you want to lay this turn) will look
like next turn. That also means that you can see if your minefields
overlap or if your minefield is big (or just not big enough when
intended) to countermine an enemy minefield. It also shows how much
existing webs and minefields will decrease each turn (that is also
shown when you press shift+F3 one or more times). But probably most
important is that you can see if your ships will reach a webminefield
just one ly within the web to have no additional danger to hit a
webmine. Or when you set up a new minefield and you know where your
enemy is located it is always useful to make it just as big that he can
not sweep it the same turn (that means it must end at least 5ly away
from the ship with standard host settings).
If you set your mission to "sweep mines" switch back to echoview
and press F9 and you will see how many mines you can destroy (or
scoop). That makes travelling less risky. While travelling through
enemy minefieds shift+F3 gives good results if you want to know how
many turns you need to sweep a bigger minefield. As said, I really love
these options and use them a lot. And EVERY Crystal People player will
be glad to have a good overview to see what his webs will look like
next turn. Especially if you want to set up some overlapping mines and
regularly end up with only a few big minefields because you mixed up
the ship ID or size of a minefield laid by a ship with a lower ID.
The most powerful feature of EchoView is it's History (and with that Future) views. There are two shortcuts you need to remember for this : F3 & Shift-F3. Pressing F3 will switch all the displayed information to the previous turn and you can continue to press F3 to go farther back in your history. Shift-F3 in the inverse and will go to a future turn, also pressing in consecutively brings you to the next and the next turn. The Window Bar display the current displayed turn and it is usefull to keep your eye on it when you back and forth in your history/future.
Scan for Planets
Scan for planets is a useful way to find a planet for a specific need that you have. You can search for planets with more that a certain amount of minerals/supplies/money etc. The built-in help is very good and I suggest you have a look at that.