(new or updated topics are marked with an asterisk):
What is VPA?
- VPA author's mail address and WWW home page
- Running VPA
- Custom game parameters
- VPA keys
- On-line help system
- Setting ship waypoints
- Calculating hyper-jumps
- Entering names/IDs while searching for planet/ship
- Using alternative picture sets
- Using VPA with WinPlan
- Troubles with some videocards
- Ghost enemy ships in PHOST games
- 'Strange PLANETS.EXE' message
- Playing in team games
- Playing on wrapped map
- Playing on custom-sized map
- Playing with dynamic map and Explore Map
- Using planetary gravity
- Custom VPA configurations and new versions of VPA
- Using extended missions
- Using map bookmarks
- Creating custom reports in VPA
- Customizing message templates
- Customizing display colors in VPA
- Using VPA data transmissions
- Using the KeepWayPoints mode
- Dull ship missions
- Dull messages
- How to speed up VPA
- Mouse problems under Windows NT
- Where do I get RTM.EXE?
- What happened to the F8 (search ship) function?
- VPA's Maketurn / Unpack
- VPA on Windows 2000 / XP / Laptop
- How does next turn mineral prediction function work?
- Ship list sorting extra information
- Actual list
- VPA Versions
What is VPA?
A: VGA Planets Assistant (VPA) is an alternative VGA Planets
client program for MS-DOS. It was designed 3 years ago and
used by the author and hundreds of players in numerous VGAP
games. Suggestions from many experienced players were used
in the program design. VPA implements a number of unique
features that are unlikely to be ever seen in other VGAP
works with great performance even on a 286 PC under MS-DOS
with plain VGA video adapter and doesn't require you to
buy an expensive Pentium/SVGA workstation or mess with MS
Windows. VPA is an add-on to DOS PLANETS.EXE, though you'll
never have to start PLANETS.EXE any more. And I bet you'll
never want to... <g>
will keep your PLANETS registration - if you were registered
all tech levels and friendly codes will be available to
you, if you were using shareware PLANETS.EXE all the limitations
will remain. But in any case your play will be amazingly
enhanced and simplified.
is not intended to compete with WinPlan, it doesn't have
neither the Windows look and feel nor graphics and sounds.
The public release of VPA was intentionally delayed for
approximately 1 year in order to avoid any harm to WinPlan
sales and other Tim Wisseman businesses. However, VPA is
compatible with WinPlan data files and can be run under
was initially written and maintained by Alex Ivlev in 1993
to 1996. Versions up to v3.58 were his creation. Since early
2002, VPA development is continued by a group of volunteers.
VPA is open source under the Mozilla license. The first
release from this group was 3.60.
MR. WISSEMAN FOR THIS WONDERFUL GAME AND DON'T FORGET TO
REGISTER YOUR COPY OF VGA PLANETS
VPA author's mail address and WWW home page
How can I reach the author of VPA and download the latest
A: The Internet home page of VPA is: http://vpa.sourceforge.net/
email addresses of the current authors are listed on the
Sourceforge project page for VPA
How do I run VPA?
A: Place VPA files into the same directory as PLANETS.EXE.
The standard command line to run VPA is
example, if you are playing Feds and your Planets directory
is C:\PLANETS and your current game data files were UNPACKed
into C:\PLANETS\PLAY_FED (using "UNPACK play_fed"
command), then the command line to run VPA is:
also exist several optional command line switches for VPA
that can be added at the end of the command line. You can
run "VPA /?" to obtain a description of VPA command
/B - runs VPA in batch mode. VPA starts,
processes data and then terminates without entering interactive
/K - runs VPA in keyboard-only mode. VPA does not
use mouse, even if it is present
/M - enforces incoming message processing. Usually
VPA reads and analyses incoming messages only once per turn.
This switch causes VPA to re-read messages
/O - tells VPA to read the specified race data
only. If there are several RST files unpacked into the same
directory (as in team games), VPA automatically reads and
combines all races' data. This switch disables it
/P - tells VPA to pause before switching to graphics,
so you can read what VPA writes on startup
/PW:pwd - allows you to specify player password
from the command line instead of typing it on request. You
can specify up to 11 different passwords by using additional
/R - runs VPA in read-only mode. No data
/REP:frm,rep - generates a report file "rep"
using report form "frm". Maybe very useful together
with the /B switch.
/S - run VPA in SVGA mode (256 colors).
This does not increase the resolution, but it allows you
to use higher refresh rates than the standard 60 Hz.
Custom game parameters
I'm playing in games with custom maps, race names, ship
lists, weapon sets, engine types, etc. Do I have to copy
VPA together with .DAT-files into a separate directory for
each game (like I do with PLANETS.EXE)?
A: No. When using custom map, ship list, race names or other
non-standard game parameters, it's not necessary to replace
standard data files in your Planets directory with the new
ones or to copy all files into a separate directory. Just
place custom data files into the current game directory
(this directory is specified as the 2nd command line parameter
for VPA). VPA first searches for data files in this directory,
then in the current directory.
finishing a game where you were using custom data files
(like XYPLAN.DAT, HULLSPEC.DAT, HULLFUNC.DAT, etc.) don't
forget to delete these files from the game directory before
starting another game in the same directory with different
parameters, otherwise you can confuse yourself and VPA about
correct game settings. Even better, always create a new
directory for a new game.
I'm playing in a game with custom race names (planet names,
starmap). What do I do to make VPA work properly with it?
A: As it was stated in the previous answer, you just have to
copy some files from your Host to the game directory. For
custom race names you need RACE.NM. For planet names - PLANET.NM.
For starmap - XYPLAN.DAT.
Attention game masters !!!
If you are hosting a game with custom starmap, and the rules
are so, that players should not know the locations of all
homeworlds, then be sure to make a copy of the custom XYPLAN.DAT
*BEFORE* you run MASTER.EXE and send this file to your players.
MASTER.EXE marks initial planets directly in XYPLAN.DAT,
and anyone smart enough to read binary data can learn about
all homeworlds from that file. *NEVER* give away XYPLAN.DAT
from the host directory!!!
Where can I find a list of all keys used in VPA?
A: See KEYS.DOC for the complete
list of all VPA keys.
On-line help system
How to use VPA on-line help system?
A: You can press F1 key in any screen and VPA will display
some helpful information applicable to this screen. There
are lots of hot keys used everywhere in VPA, but don't panic.
Whenever you press F1, you get a complete list of hot keys
specific to the current screen. Also there are some common
keys active in most of VPA screens. They are listed in the
General Help screen that is available from any other help
screen via pressing Spacebar. Most of hot keys are highlighted
on the screen with a bright colour (usually White or Yellow).
Each help page in VPA contains a list of related help topics
at the bottom of the screen. You can press one of highlighted
keys to read another help page or Esc to exit the help mode.
Setting ship waypoints
How do I set ship waypoints?
A: To order your ship to move towards the chosen destination:
enter the ship's control screen (click on it with mouse
or choose it from the object list),
(b) enter Distance Mode (press spacebar or click right mouse
(c) move mouse pointer to the destination point (you will
see a color line following the pointer, also the time/fuel
table will appear in the lower-right corner of the screen),
(d) press Ctrl-Enter (or Ctrl-click).You
may wish to adjust the waypoint to the edge of a planetary
warp well in order to spare some fuel. To do this, click
on the planet during the (c) phase of the above described
sequence, then press "G".
movement over small distances, it might help to zoom into
the map (Tab key).
How do I calculate hyper-jumps in VPA?
A: VPA doesn't have a hyper-jump calculator, because hyper-jumps
are very easily planned with VPA circle-drawing feature
(F9 key). You can draw a 350 LY radius circle to see all
plan a two-jump HYP route, just draw 2 circles at the origin
and destination points. Any of the 2 intersection points
can be used as a waypoint.
the distance is greater than 700 LY (three-jump route),
you can choose any point on the circle around the origin
that is within 350 LY from the circle around the destination,
set a marker at this point (Ins key) and draw a circle around
this point. This will be the 1st waypoint, and any of the
2 new intersection points can be chosen as the 2nd waypoint
(set a marker there too).
pressing Ctrl-H you can instantly draw 3 circles around
the current pointer location - 340, 350 and 360 LY in radius.
Entering names/IDs while searching for planet/ship
What do I type when I press F7 or Shift-F7 to find a planet
A: You have to enter the name of the planet or ship
you want to find. You can type either first few letters
of the name required or the ID number.
Using alternative picture sets
I don't like the original ship pictures supplied with VGA
Planets. But there are talks about alternative picture sets.
If I download it, can I use it with VPA? And what pictures
are the best?
A: Yes, surely. You can use it in 2 different ways:
you can overwrite RESOURCE.PLN file in your Planets directory;
2) you can rename it and specify the new name in [System]
section of VPA.INI file (that can be created in the current
game directory if you want to use that new picture set in
this game only).
will use pictures from the new resource file in its combat
simulator and construction yard.
VPA author's choice is ALTPLN by Mike Arrowood. It's a masterpiece!
Using VPA with WinPlan
Can I use VPA with WinPlan?
A: Yes. As much as it's possible to use DOS-based programs
together with Windows-based ones. VPA understands WinPlan
data format and can be used to play WinPlan games. VPA also
distinguishes between shareware and registered versions
of WinPlan and maintains the shareware tech limitations.
VPA currently does not support extended features provided
by WinPlan (like notepads, multiple waypoints, etc.)
If you are registered WinPlan user, but don't have a registered
PLANETS.EXE file, you should unpack your RSTs with WinPlan,
not with any DOS unpacker programs. When you unpack your
RST with WinPlan for the first time in the game, make a
little change (like change an fcode on one planet) before
exiting WinPlan. Otherwise VPA might not recognize your
the DOS picture set file (RESOURCE.PLN) must be present
in the directory where you start VPA, or path to it must
be specified in [System] section of VPA.INI.
can be run in a DOS-box while WinPlan is running. But you
can only view the game data in this case. Any changes will
be overwritten by WinPlan on exit.
important issue is writing player messages in VPA for a
WinPlan game. WinPlan has a message size limit of 600 bytes,
i.e., it cannot handle messages longer than 600 bytes, that
is approximately 14 full lines of text. DOS PLANETS.EXE
and VPA can usually handle larger messages. But when VPA
detects presence of WinPlan message file (MESS35n.DAT) in
the game directory, it limits its messaging capability to
600 bytes for compatibility with WinPlan. In that case you
will not always be able to write a message to the bottom
of the VPA message window.
the current version of WinPlan (3.52.003 on the moment of
VPA 3.51release) can produce some unpredicable and unexplanable
changes of message contents. That's why it is recommended
that you check your messages written in VPA before packing
your TRN in WinPlan. Hopefully, all side effects in WinPlan
messaging system will be eliminated by its author sooner
or later, therefore, VPA does not perform any special actions
to avoid these side effects.
if you are not using VPA with WinPlan, avoid UNPACKing your
RST files into a directory that contains old WinPlan data.
This will reduce data processing time and remove software
limitations imposed for compatibility with WinPlan.
Troubles with some videocards
When I leave the construction yard or combat simulator my
screen goes black and I can't see anything, although VPA
seems to be working and I can blindly press Alt-X to exit...
A: You have a faulty video card that does not correctly switch
standard VGA video modes (for instance, some ALI video cards
reportedly have this problem). Set BadVideoOrMouse parameter
to "Yes" in VPA.INI file ([System] section). This
will add some flickering when switching VPA screens, but
will hopefully eliminate the problem.
Ghost enemy ships in PHOST games
I'm playing in a PHOST game and sometimes VPA shows enemy
ships that are not actually there.
A: You are/were using PHOST BigTargets feature and unpacked
your RST file with VPUNPACK program. VPUNPACK creates a
file named TARGETn.EXT in your game directory. When your
scanners show more than 50 enemy ships, this file contains
information about 'excessive' targets. VPA reads this file.
reason you switched back to Tim Wisseman's UNPACK program
or WinPlan and unpacked your new RST with it. But the old
TARGETn.EXT file is still there and it causes VPA to show
the 'ghost' enemy ships. You should delete the TARGETn.DAT
file whenever you switch from VPUNPACK to UNPACK. Ghost
ships will disappear on the next turn after you delete old
'Strange PLANETS.EXE' message
VPA doesn't recognize my registered PLANETS.EXE file and
displays a message about this file being 'strange'.
A: Starting with version 3.50, VPA actively discourages using
of modified or hacked copies of registered PLANETS.EXE file.
If your legal registered copy of the game is not recognized
by VPA, then try re-installing it from the distributive.
If VPA still does not recognize it, then please report this
to the author of VPA (not to Tim Wisseman! please don't
bother Tim with others' bugs).
Playing in team games
I'm playing in a team game where I have RSTs of my teammates.
Do I have to run VPA for every race to see the whole situation?
A: No! Just unpack all your team RST files into the
same directory and run VPA for your race. VPA will automatically
read all data for the whole team and combine it into the
complete picture. You can also see combat recordings for
all races of your team and read all player-to-player messages
received by all members of the team. Duplicate messages
are eliminated, so if you send a universal message, next
turn you will see only 1 copy of if.
message editor also has a special feature for team game
players - Team Message. When you select this option from
the addressee menu, VPA sends a copy of the message to all
players on your team.
some of your teammates have passwords, you should specify
them in the command line using one or more /PW switches
(see "Running VPA").
Playing on wrapped map
I'm playing in a game with an add-on that 'wraps' the map
so that ships travelling beyond one edge of the map appear
from the opposite edge. Can VPA help me to plan operations
spanning across the edge of the map?
A: Yes! VPA supports thoroidal map model, e.g. a square map
where ships going beyond the right edge arrive from the
left edge, and ships going beyond the top of the map arrive
from the bottom. In this case VPA displays the map as an
infinite star field, where you can scroll endlessly in any
direction only to see the same areas again and again. Objects
from the far left side of the map are drawn beyond the wrap
line at the right edge and vice versa, and the same for
top and bottom. You can see the real picture created by
the wrapping, you can measure distances and set ship waypoints.
let VPA know about the wrapping, you should create a file
named MAP.INI in the game directory and type there: "Wrap
default, VPA assumes that the map wraps exactly at its edge
(X and Y =1000 and 3000), e.g., a ship going to (950,950)
will arrive at (2950,2950). Default size of the map is 2000
LYs (the distance from X=1000 to X=3000). However, the wrap
edge is often set by gamemasters not exactly at the edge
of the map, but say 50 LYs off the map (e.g., at X and Y
= 950 and 3050). In this case you should let VPA know that
the actual size of unwrapped map is changed, it is now 2100
(3050 - 950 = 2100). You should add another line to MAP.INI:
"Size = 2100"
supports only square wrapped maps. Cirle wrapping is not
supported, because it requires some serious trigonometrical
calculations that would be very slow (especially on PCs
without math co-processor), and, the most important, the
author does not see any strategical difference between playing
on square or circle wrapped map.
Playing on custom-sized map
I'm playing in a game with a map larger (smaller) than the
Can I see the whole map in VPA?
A: Yes. VPA supports custom-sized maps satisfying the following
the map must be square (horizontal size = vertical size)
2) linear size of the map (from edge to edge) must be 4000
3) point (2000,2000) must be the centre of the map
VPA know about the custom map size, you should create a
file named MAP.INI in the game directory and type there:
"Size = NNNN", where "NNNN" is the actual
linear size of the map (from edge to edge).
example, if the map starts at (800,800) and ends at (3200,3200),
then the size is 2400 (3200 - 800 = 2400).
Playing with dynamic map and Explore Map
I'm playing in a game with the Explore Map add-on, where
the map is initially unknown and is actually uncovered as
my ships move across the space, that is, the map changes
every turn, new planets arrive. Can VPA help me?
A: Yes! VPA provides full support for Explore Map.
It automatically reads changing maps from XYPLANn.DAT files
and uses them instead of the main XYPLAN.DAT map. Every
turn the map is stored in VPA database, so you can later
review the game turn by turn and VPA will always show the
map exactly as it was on each turn. If you are playing in
a team and have other players' RST files unpacked into the
same directory (as well as their XYPLANn.DAT files), VPA
will read all partial maps and combine them into a single
let VPA know that you are using Explore Map in your game
(e.g., that XYPLANn.DAT files must be used instead of the
main XYPLAN.DAT), you should set "Explore = Yes"
in the MAP.INI file in your game directory (create this
file if it does not exist yet).
let you see the whole map in PLANETS.EXE, WinPlan or any
other VGAP utility, VPA writes the complete map (obtanied
by merging all partial maps from XYPLANx.DAt files) to a
single XYPLAN.DAT file in the game directory.
if you are using any other add-on that changes the map turn
by turn, VPA will provide the same support for it. If all
players have the same changing map, you don't have to do
anything - VPA will take care of it by itself. If each player
has an individual changing map in XYPLANn.DAT (as in Explore
Map), just set "Explore = Yes" in MAP.INI.
Using planetary gravity
Using planetary gravity, my ships can spare fuel and time
in movement. However, setting ship waypoints to the edge
of planetary gravity well is not easy, and a 1 LY mistake
can spoil the whole operation. Can VPA help me?
A: Yes. When you are in the Distance Mode setting waypoint
for your ship, you can lock the pointer on a planet (by
clicking mouse or pressing Enter key near it) and then press
"G". VPA will set the pointer to the edge point
of the planet's gravity well closest to the ship. You can
then press Ctrl-Enter (or Ctrl-click) to set the ship's
you are using planetary gravity all the time (as most of
experienced players do), you can edit your VPA.INI file
and set "AutoUseGravity" option in "Interface"
section to "On". When this option is enabled,
VPA will automatically adjust ship waypoints for you.
sometimes you may still need to set your ship waypoint precisely
to a planet. You can do it without turning the AutoUseGravity
mode on and off for each such occasion. Select the destination
planet on the screen by clicking the mouse on it and then
press Esc to de-select it. Now you can set your ship waypoint
by pressing Ctrl-Enter or Ctrl-click. Since the planet is
not selected, VPA will not adjust the waypoint.
A: In recent versions (VPA 3.61) you can also press Shift-G
in large zoom levels. This will show the gravity wells of
Custom VPA configurations and new versions of VPA
I edited VPA configuration files to suit my personal taste.
But the new version of VPA contains VPA.INI and VPA.MSG
in its distributive. I don't want to overwrite my favourite
configuration, but I want to see and use new options implemented
in the new version...
A: VPA currently does not have a flexible configuration feature
(as well as good documentation). You can edit VPA.INI and
VPA.MSG files as you wish, but you should be aware not to
overwrite your custom settings with the standard files included
within VPA distributive. Before installing a new version
of VPA, copy your custom VPA.INI and VPA.MSG (if you modified
them) to a safe location or rename them. After you installed
new VPA, compare the contents of old and new files. You
will have to either repeat all the changes you made with
the new files, or copy new settings from the new files to
the old ones and bring the old files back - whatever is
more convenient for you. VPA.INI file is small enough, and
you can easily handle it. VPA.MSG is large and complicated,
that's why the author does not recommend making any changes
to it unless you are absolutely sure (see VPAMSG.DOC). The
author apologizes for possible inconvenience.
Using extended missions
PHOST and some add-ons support extended missions (additional
missions with two possible parameters, "Mission-Intercept-Tow"
standard). Can I set these missions in VPA?
A: Yes. In order to use extended missions, place the MISSION.INI
file to the game directory. This file contains definitions
of extended missions available for the game. Game master
should provide it to players. VPA will show extended missions
and let you set them. Extended missions are available at
the bottom of the mission selection menu.
Using map bookmarks
What are map bookmarks and how do I use them in VPA?
A: When your empire spans across a large map area, you cannot
have it all on the same screen with map resolution good
enough to see all necessary details. You zoom the map window
in to manage one region, then you either scroll or zoom
out and then in again to manage another region, etc. VPA
provides a feature called "screen bookmarks" or
"stored positions" to help you to move across
your empire quickly. When you have a good view of one of
the regions of your empire, press Shift-Alt-<n>, where
<n> is a numeric key ("0".."9")
to place a "bookmark" there. VPA will remember
coordinates and resolution of the current map window. Then
you can move to another map region, but whenever you press
Alt-<n> (with the same <n>), VPA will instatly
take you to that first region. You can store up to 10 map
Creating custom reports in VPA
How do I create custom report forms for VPA?
A: See REPORTS.DOC for the description of VPA Report Language
Customizing message templates
How do I customize VPA message templates (VPA.MSG)?
A: See VPAMSG.DOC for the description of VPA.MSG format.
Customizing display colors in VPA
How do I customize display color in VPA?
A: See COLORS.DOC for the description of VPA color system.
Using VPA data transmissions
How do I use VPA data transmissions?
A: VPA allows you to send planetary data, minefield scans and
map markers to other players. To send data, select the desired
object on the map (enter its information screen) and press
Shift-F3. You will be prompted to select addressee(s) of
the data transmission, then one or more special format messages
will be sent to other players of your choice.
to protect you from being intentionally misinformed by the
enemy, VPA will not accept data transmission messages from
other players unless you give VPA a special permission for
it. To allow accepting data transmissions from race X, you
should edit file named VPADATn.INI in the game directory
(n - YOUR race number) and set "AcceptDataX = Yes".
"AcceptData0" parameter allows or disallows accepting
data from unknown senders (e.g., from rumour messages).
After giving VPA new permissions to accept data transfers,
re-run VPA one time with the "/m" command line
switch to re-process messages.
Using the KeepWayPoints mode
What does the "KeepWayPoints" option in VPA.INI
A: When this option is enabled, at the start of each turn VPA
will automatically restore waypoints for your ships that
were set on the previous turn, except for ships that ran
out of fuel, were towed or chunnelled. This feature uses
planetary gravity, so if a ship had its waypoint set to
the edge of planetary warp well and warp factor 2 or more,
the waypoint will be cleared once the ship reaches the planet
(that is very useful in combination with "AutoUseGravity
mode is very useful for DOS players, because when you set
a waypoint farther than 200 LYs away from the ship, Host
will trim it (for technical reasons), so you have to re-set
the waypoint each next turn, otherwise the ship may not
reach its destination. VPA will do this work for you.
this feature can be useful for hyper-ships. Their waypoints
and warp settings are cleared by Host after each jump. If
KeepWayPoints mode is enabled, VPA will restore their original
waypoints and warp.
If you use other utilities to set ship waypoints while you
have "KeepWayPoints = On", you must run VPA after
all them, before making your TRN. Otherwise there is no
way for VPA to know about the new waypoints, and it may
re-set some waypoints next turn to the old locations.
Dull ship missions
VPA does not allow me to set some missions to some ships.
But I need these missions for (...whatever...)!
A: VPA tries to reduce your risk of making mistakes
(accidentally setting wrong ship mission), so it removes
some missions from ship mission menu. These missions are
normally cannot be performed, like Laying Mines with a freighter,
or Building Fighters with a torpedo ship. However, if you
still need these missions (for instance, you have some add-on
that uses them), you can set "DullMissions = On"
in VPA.INI to bring them back.
VPA does not allow me to send messages to some races. Why?
A: Normally, when you send a message to a race that is not
played, that message will be never received by the addressee
and will only slow down Host processing. That's why the
default VPA configuration does not allow sending messages
to races with zero score. However, if by some reason you
need to send such a message (for example, if you are using
some add-on that wipes all scores to hide ship numbers from
players), you can set "DullMessages = On" in VPA.INI
to do it.
PHOST has an option for blanking scores ("ScoringMethod
= None"). If you have PCONFIG.SRC in the game directory
(that is highly recommended), VPA will allow sending "dull"
messages without changing VPA.INI.
How to speed up VPA
I have a very slow PC, and VPA is not that fast on it...
A: VPA is notorious for its great speed. However, on old slow
PCs it still can take some time. There are some advises
how to speed up VPA:
Any disk cache can be very helping. VPA reads a lot of data
speed up map redrawing:
it's better to turn off permanent ship tracking (Shift-T),
especially if there are any FireCloud Cruisers in sight;
B) planet names (Shift-P) also take some time to write;
C) if you miss planet names, you can set "SmallFont
= Off" in VPA.INI, that will speed up planet names
writing, although they will be not so nice-looking.
VPA is a DPMI application, it will normally use all memory
you have in your computer (except for memory configured
as EMS), so there's no need to shuffle DOS drivers around
to get more "conventional" memory.
Mouse problems under Windows NT
I'm using VPA under Windows NT. When I select a planet with
the mouse, I am unable to move off of the planet. What's
A: VPA has a feature called "StickyMouse" that prevents
low-amplitude random movement of the mouse from actually
moving the cursor. It is usually a very helpful feature
that increases the convenience of the interface and prevents
setting wrong waypoints. But the NT mouse driver works in
such a way that all mouse movements are subdivided into
1-pixel parts, so VPA confuses them with random movement
caused by desk vibrations, shaky hands, etc. and ignores
them. Under Windows NT you should set "StickyMouse
= OFF" in VPA.INI.
Where do I get RTM.EXE?
VPA refuses to run with a message that it can't find "dpmi16bi.ovl"
A: These files are distributed separately, in an archive commonly
called "vpasupp.zip" (VPA support files). That
archive will also include a nice resource.pln file.
What happened to the F8 (search ship) function?
The F8 key does not work any longer!
A: The "search ship" function is on Shift-F7 in VPA
3.58c and later.
VPA's Maketurn / Unpack
I've heard VPA's Unpack and/or Maketurn are notoriously
buggy. What gives?
A: It is true that these functions had bugs in the past. For
example, Maketurn would cancel all pending build orders
in PHost games. We believe to have fixed all pending issues
and these functions are now safe.
VPA on Windows 2000 / XP / Laptop
I have this brand-new Laptop / Windows 2000 / Windows XP
and VPA won't run on it. What can I do?
A: Bug Microsoft and/or your graphics card vendor to improve
their DOS support.
that doesn't help, try VPAMM, which is based on a different
graphics engine than the "standard" VPA. You can
get this program from the VPA website. As of VPA 3.61f,
VPAMM is a fully-grown VPA which is exactly identical to
normal VPA (although it looks slightly different because
it uses different circle algorithms :-)
best solution of course would be if you find and solve the
problem (a magic registry hack?). So far, VPA developers
were in the lucky situation that their XP systems do support
things that may help:
- you might have a program "HTPATCH.EXE" running.
To remove it, delete the registry key HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\HTPATCH
and reboot. Nobody seems to know what this program *exactly*
does. Reportedly it adds hyper-threading support to your
graphics driver, and graphics throughput will drop by a
few percent when you remove it.
- if you have a really fast computer, try DOSBOX from <http://dosbox.sourceforge.net/>.
As of December 2003, it runs VPAMM if you disable DPMI ("set
DPMI=no"). DOSBOX emulates a complete PC, so by saying
"really fast computer", I mean *really* fast.
DOSBOX reduces execution speed by a magnitude of 100 compared
to native execution.
- install Linux and use DOSEMU. Disk space is cheap so adding
another operating system won't kill you.
How does next turn mineral prediction function work?
In base construction yard when pressing 'n' key VPA shows
minerals and cash that will be aviable next turn. How does
it works ?
A: This feature is added to help planning resources moment
in your empire. You can check if next turn you will be able
to build desire ship. All calculations are made using only
ships, planets, bases that player has all information aviable
at the moment. This means that only race XX ships read from
playerXX.rst will be used. To make VPA uses YY ally ships,
the playerYY.rst should be present during unpack. VPA trys
as close as possible to simulate Thost or Phost behavior,
but cannot simulate random processes (meteors, ion storms,
minefield travel) or actions of your enemy.
following host stages are simulated :
jettison and cargo dump
beam down money ('bdm' or mission=25)
cyborg self repair
torpedoes build ('mkt' or mission=20)
ship fighters production
base fix, recycle (no ally check)
repair ships using supplies
simple tow resolution
ship movement including hyperjump
base free fighters
base 'dmp' FC
base 'Max Defense' mission
colonize (no ally check)
allies (unload for bases)
The following actions are NOT simulated :
beam up minerals
give ship or planet
Fed super refit
overpopulation supply loss
Ship list sorting extra information
What does mean those color markers left to ship name while
changing ship list sort order ?
A: Ship list sort order can be changed using Shift-z key. The
sorting order will change in following way : ship ID, ship
battle order, ship hull id, tow dependency. Just below ship
list markers a letter indicates current sort order. B -
battle order, H - ship hull id, T - tow order.
Battle order is computed using rules similar to ones used
in Phost. Cloak attack is not used. Ship list markers using
battle order sorting are listed below:
circle ship will fight before planet.
circle ship will fight after planet.
circle ship is aggressive (has beams, torpedoes launchers,
fighters bays and kill mission or enemy set) but its FC
is not set to numerical value.
cross ship has no fuel.
rhombe ship has beams, torpedoes launchers or fighters
bays but kill mission or enemy is not set.
rhombe ship cannot attack (no beams, torps or bays).
In ship hull id sort order only green square is used to
indicate ships with hull of player own design.
In tow sort order the following markers are used:
square ship that is towing.
cross ship that is being towed.
cross ship that is being towed has warp not set to 0.
cross more than one ship is trying to tow this ship
I often forget to give commands to one of my units. Can
VPA help me?
A: If you have a large number of objects (ships, planets, bases)
to operate, some remain outside of the control because you
may forget give order for them. For decrease chance of that
collision come in handy to you the actual list. Use ','
and '.' keys instead cursor's keys for selection next or
previous objects your own. When orders for current object
are complete, press '/' key for exclude object from actual
list. If you need to return to this object, use the cursor's
keys for selection and '/' key to include them in actual
list objects have headings of white color, others - darkgray.
the beginning of each turn, all objects are on the list.
Press '/' to take them off when you're finished with them.
What's the difference between VPA and VPAMM (Mixed Mode)?
A: The standard VPA version is a Borland Pascal Protected Mode
program. It uses Borland's rtm.exe loader, Borland's BGI
graphics library, and Borlands VGA driver or Ulrich von
Bassewitz' SVGA driver.
above software collection is not free of problems. For example,
the BGI library has a well-known bug which makes VPA display
garbage under Windows 2000.
Reuther has ported VPA to the runtime environment used in
PCC. It uses an internal loader, and its own graphics library.
It is called "mixed mode" because, unlike standard
VPA, it can fall back to real mode if protected mode is
not available (if you do not know what this techno babble
means, ignore it - you won't miss it.). This is VPAMM. Since
that's quite a big change in the program's environment,
this version for a long time beared the label "experimental".
A bit more plastic, this operation is as if you replace
the engine of your Mercedes (=VPA) car by the one from a
BMW (=PCC) car. The car still looks the same, but the gas
pedal might feel a bit different (=VPAMM looks a bit different),
and if you overlooked something, the gearshift got stuck
(=predictions are off).
of mid-2003, however, we claim VPAMM to be as reliable and
accurate as VPA. It looks slightly different (harmless)
and might be a bit slower. It sometimes has trouble with
the mouse pointer, which is annoying but harmless, too.