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VPUTIL - VGA Planets Support Utility

Author: Sysma Automatisering

Disclaimer of Warranties
========================

The program is delivered to you as is. Although copyrighted, Sysma Automatisering shall not be liable for any damage whatsoever arising out of your use of this program, either in it's original form or any altered form, even if you have been advised of the possibility of such damages.

Although distributed freely, this is copyrighted material. You are hereby granted the rights to use and/or modify the program for your personal use. You may (re)distribute this program or your own modifications, PROVIDED you distribute the complete set of original files with your own modified ones and you distribute them without charging any money or any other form of compensation.


History
=======

18/02/95 Version 3.15

Extended the configuration editor to handle the new fields introduced with VPHOST 3.15

28/01/95 Version 3.10c Added new transponder commands, dealing with
team member properties.
Fixed a decoding bug in unpacking of a password.
Fixed an unhandled exeption bug in the protected mode versions.
Unpacking transponder binaries now check against the current record sizes, so when the records VPHOST was using (ie. more recent version) are larger, the unpacker no longer crashes.
Added a native OS/2 version.
Extended the configuration editor to handle the new fields introduced with VPHOST 3.10c
Modified the spawning of VPVCR, the battle viewer.
See the chapter on the battle viewer for details.
02/01/95 Version 3.00 Version upgraded to become in sync with PLANETS version.
Added two new transponder commands, to be used with VPHOST 3.00 upwards.
The unpack command now stores any scanned target ships exceeding 50 in a separate file, Target??.Ext.
This way only the first 50 scanned targets are stored in the normal Target??.Dat file. This will prevent PLANETS from crashing. VPUTIL now reads both files to search for scanned targets.
Fixed a bug in the tampering detection whenever player data contains more than 255 planets, bases or ships.
15/12/94 Version 2.60 Updated the configuration editor to contain the extra options introduced by VPHOST 2.10
25/11/94 Version 2.55 Fixed a bug with the decoding of passwords. Under some circumstances the passwords would get corrupted, and VPMKTRN concidered this tampering of the data files.
Fixed a bug related to the decompile command.
Sometimes a turnfile compiled with MAKETURN would be rejected.
21/11/94 Version 2.52 If one of the game files is missing, or has errors, it now will be reported in which file.
12/11/94 Version 2.50 Added support for VPHOST's new message transponder.
15/10/94 Version 2.40 Fixed a bug with ship to enemy ship cargo transfer.
Whenever only one enemy ship was available, the cargo was beamed into thin air.
Added spec viewers for engines, beam weapons and torpedoes.
20/06/94 Version 2.36 Supplies from Bovinoids are now added to the Projected Resources.
Gravity Wells are now taken into account when ETA's are to be determined.
Fuel usage has now a separate line for the usage of the next turn only.
18/05/94 Version 2.35 Added a link with VCR.EXE, so that battles can be watched from within VPUTIL.
VPUTIL will now try to open the result file, if the normal player data files are not found.
VPUTIL now searches the startup directory for the global data files, if they cannot be found in either the game or the current directory.
Fixed the bug that with transporting clans to an enemy vessel the system would not accept any clans.
30/04/94 Version 2.31 Added a list of ships to the planet detailed screen of all your ships currently on route to that planet.
Added a projected resource screen to the planet screen to show accumulated resource totals within the next 10 turns.
28/04/94 Version 2.30 Changed fuel usage printout of the engines from real burn to relative percentages.
Added a report mode to the hull reports, to show which players have hulls in their respective lists.
Changed native tax rates to show 0 MC, regardless of the tax rate for Amorphous natives.
Ship defense statistics now report correctly the number of mines that can be swept, instead of the rate of just one engine.
Ship defense statistics now also report the number of mine units a ship can lay, if any.
Ships can now choose other ships as waypoint.
Added the same scoring screen as PLANETS.EXE uses, to report known amounts of the various players.
17/02/94 Version 2.20 Allowed Colonists to beam to enemy vessels. (It turned out that PLANETS also allows this, strangly enough).
Added view/edit/usage of HCONFIG.HST.
Added a turn file decompiler.
Extended the ship defense statistics with the actual mine sweep rates, using HCONFIG data.
Fixed a few presentation glitches.
24/01/94 Version 2.10 Added a FAST turn file compile command.
Fixed a few presentation glitches.
18/01/94 Version 2.00 Finally completed the beta-test program. This is the official GA release. Improved some detailed screens slightly, improved the speed of several parts, and reduced the size of the code.
Implemented transfer of cargo to foreign ships.
Removed the bug that with the F6 function while in a ship screen and selecting an enemy ship would lock up the system.
Added a battle specification browser.
18/12/93 Version 1.99h Fixed a few minor bugs and a serious one concerning transporting cargo to/from other ships. Under some rare conditions this could lead to random cargo values.
Added the feature that VPUTIL looks for global data files (ie. race.nm, etc.) in your specified path and only if it does not find a complete set, it looks in the current directory. This enables you to play several games with different universes more easily.
05/11/93 Version 1.99g Corrected the error of specifying the wrong ship when entering an intercept mission. Added beaming cargo down on the surface of a foreign planet (or jettison cargo into deep space).
Finally figured out the last details concerning data encryption. This made it possible to write a new, FAST unpack routine, which is embedded in this program as of now. Running PLANETS itself is now reduced to only once for every game directory you use, instead of once every turn.
Added password protection of the data files.
15/09/93 Version 1.99f Finally added selction of waypoints, and completed the implementation of the Intercept and Tow missions.
Added the cargo transported between own planets and ships, and enabled the selection of ships at the same location with the F6 key.
24/08/93 Version 1.99e Added a read only flag, which prevents changes to be written back. This option is implemented, because several players use Windows or OS/2 to run this program and PLANETS concurrently. When both programs write back data, this can cause problems.
Usage of this flag should prevent this.
05/08/93 Version 1.99d The setting of the warp factor has now taken into account the damage of a ship. The mining rate of the mining survey has been corrected for the Lizard player. Buying a torpedo had a serious bug.
Payment was as if a fighter was bought. This has been corrected. The amount of tax collected by the Federation is now reported correctly.
03/08/93 Version 1.99c A few minor bugs, mostly related to presentation of information in the reports, have been fixed.
31/07/93 Version 1.99b Memory allocation and read/write logic changed again.
Allocation is now based upon single records and therefore no limitation exists anymore.
An interactive interface has been added which can replace almost any action inside PLANETS. Since this system can access AND update any ship or planet data, the show commands have been removed. The commands to raise tech levels have also been removed, for the same reason.
Note that this version, although stable, is still in beta testing. It is neither complete, nor tested thorough enough to be guaranteed to work under all circumstances. It is therefore advisable to make a backup of your result and/or data files before using this program.
16/04/93 Version 1.6 Totally revamped the read/write logic and memory structures. Now only more than 400 bases can cause a memory allocation error. Since this is an impossible situation anyway, the program should work fine under all circumstances.
Added the feature of reading the data directly from the result file, ie. before unpack has been used.
15/04/93 Version 1.5 Finally tracked down the implementation of the checksum generating system. This eliminates the possibility of not being able to write back changed data files.
14/04/93 Version 1.3 Corrected the bug that whenever tech level increase was specified at or below the current level, the current level got reset to tech level 0.
Corrected the bug that whenever changing a tech level without specifying the planet Id, the first planet instead of the planet with the base was taken. This would then result in corrupted data files.
Also adjusted the close range scanner reports to eliminate ships oribiting planets you do not own.
Added the planetary information report.
12/04/93 Version 1.2 Corrected the galaxy enenmy ship scan for VGA Planets version 2.x data files bug, and added some more reports.
11/04/93 Version 1.1 Fixed some minor bugs, added reports of the various data in the game and added extra detailed information displays. Removed the 'Change planetary friendly codes' command, as it turned out that this command effectively canceled out the race advantage of the Bird Man.
10/04/93 Version 1.0 First public release of the program. Further enhancements are already planned, but we are awaiting feedback and bug reports of this version first.


Introduction
============

This utility is designed to support and enhance the client part of the game VGA Planets versions 3.0 only (ie. Planets.Exe). VGA Planets is a strategic space war/economy simulation game for up to eleven players. The unique feature of the game is that it plays the turns off-line. This means that there is a game server (or Host) somewhere where the entire game universe exists. The game server executes the commands the players provide each game turn and provides the results, tailored to every player.

Each player gets the results meant for him and uses the game client program (Planets.Exe) to view the results of the previous set of commands and to issue new ones. Because each player gets only results from the host concerning his own ships and planets, it is not possible to see enemy ships or planets when the game rules don't permit this.

Build into the game is an E-mail facility, which enables the possibility to send messages to other players. This E-mail facility is also used by the automated host program to report information back to you regarding the previous issued commands. You can use this E-mail facility just as you like. A good purpose would be to perform diplomacy with it. Messages you send to a player X don't arrive by player Y if you so choose.

At certain planets there are starbases in orbit. These starbases are very important, as they act as your space ship factory and as a space ship repair/refit location. At every starbase a set of four technology levels are maintained. The levels are for space ship hulls (ie. the frame to build a space ship), transwarp drive engines, beam weapons and photon torpedoes. The higher a techonoly level, the more powerfull the parts concerned become.


Purpose
=======

For every version of VGA Planets there exist both a shareware copy and a registered equivalent. The shareware version limits all technology levels to level 6, whereas the registered version allows technology levels upto level 10, plus several other nice additional features.

The main purpose of this program is to provide players with additional features not found in PLANETS itself, while maintaining the same features of both the shareware and the registered version of Planets itself. The autodetection logic build into the program will prevent shareware players from accessing registered user features.

Features supported by VPUTIL can be divided into three categories:

1. The report generator. This part provides the players with different reports covering all data available to the player.

2. Check and correct facilities.

3. An interactive, menu driven user interface, enabling easier access to the most important commands also available within PLANETS. The keywords here are consistancy in operation, full undo facility, extra viewers and convenient shortcut keys.

As of version 1.99g, VPUTIL comes with autodetection of registered players. Whenever VPUTIL is run on data previously accessed by a registered PLANETS copy, it will enable the same features registered PLANETS users enjoy, such as tech levels upto 10 on all starbases. If, however, the game data was last accessed by the shareware PLANETS copy, access to all extended features is prohibited. There is no hidden or secret command line option or keystroke sequence to trigger the registered features on a shareware game.

VPUTIL can be used as a complete replacement of the PLANETS program, except for writing messages to other players. Note that, when you stop using PLANETS and you are a registered user, VPUTIL writes a shareware signature to your player data files if you used UNPACK to unpack your result files. However, using the unpack command of VPUTIL (or the stand alone VPUNPACK program) will eliminate this problem.

Normally, UNPACK writes just the data files and the PLANETS program takes care of creating the essential encrypted data plus the signature. This is also the reason why you cannot use MAKETURN immediately after UNPACK. The UNPACK program does in fact eliminate any encrypted data plus the signature, left over from the last turn. The unpack routine of both VPUNPACK and VPUTIL, on the other hand, update this information when found and always write the data back. If no data from a previous turn is found, a shareware signature is assumed.


DPMI protected mode version
============================

Usage of the protected mode version is identical to the real mode VPUTIL command, described in the next sections. However, there are several additional points to keep in mind.

VPUTILX is the 16 bits DPMI version, and requires at least a 286 machine with 2 MB of RAM installed. It calls and uses RTM.EXE as it's DPMI service provider. RTM detects and uses an already present DPMI server (such as HIMEM or QEMM), but if a server is not yet installed, it installs it's own server DPMI16BI.OVL, which must be locateable in the current directory, or via the PATH.

For the DPMI version to work, you need the contents of the separate VPRTM.ARJ package. This package contains all the files needed for the DPMI modus to work. The DPMI server has been packaged separately to save room in the individual other packages, since these files are the same for all of the DPMI executables in the VP... series.


Native OS/2 version
===================

Usage of the OS/2 version, VPUTIL2, is identical to the normal DOS versions. The OS/2 version is full 32 bits flat memory model, so you will need at least OS/2 version 2.00 or higher. It uses a character mode interface, so you must start it in either a windowed OS/2 command prompt box, or a full screen OS/2 command box. No other support executables are needed.

The program has been tested on the most recent OS/2 release, OS/2 WARP. Support for the battle viewer has been added, but you should be aware of a few points. First, the battle viewer is Tim's original VCR.EXE program, slightly altered to be able to return to VPUTIL, instead of respawning PLANETS.

Since VPUTIL2 is a native OS/2 version, the battle viewer cannot run in the same command box as VPUTIL2. Instead, a full screen DOS VDM is spawned and set up to start the VPVCR program. To do this correctly, the VPSPAWN, VPVCR and VPDUMMY programs must all be in the same directory as VPUTIL2 itself.

Since OS/2 is true multi tasking, VPUTIL2 will continue running after spawning the DOS VDM. OS/2 does not support a parent process/child process relationship over different sessions, so VPUTIL2 has no way of knowing when the battle viewer has terminated. Instead, it enters a waiting modus while displaying a text on the screen. Terminating the waiting modus before the viewer has finished will force a close of the DOS VDM, thus ending the viewer prematurely. This has no side effects, since the battle viewer accesses it's files in read only modus.


The message transponder
=======================

See the file TRANS.DOC for details.

Whenever VPUTIL is started in Read Only modus, the transponder commands will be processed but not saved ! This applies to the processing of the real client data files and the viewing of result files.

Since the Read Only modus prevents writing of any changes, it is possible that in this mode transponder commands are processed, while they remain unprocessed in normal read/write modus. If this happens, the path to the global data file differs from the path to the current game data. The transponder requires both directory paths to be the same in order to write changes to the global data files.


The configuration editor
========================

See the file CONFIG.DOC for details.


The battle viewer
=================

VPUTIL has build in support to view the battles using Tim's original battle viewer, VCR.EXE. The VCR program has been slightly modified to be able to return to VPUTIL, instead of respawing PLANETS itself. To avoid conflicts, the battle viewer has been renamed VPVCR.EXE.

The VPVCR program is not spawned directly, but is spawned from VPSPAWN instead. VPSPAWN takes care of setting up the correct environment for the VPVCR program. The following sequence of events will occur before VPVCR is started:

The TORPSPEC.DAT and BEAMSPEC.DAT files in the VPVCR directory are backed up, if present. The TORPSPEC.DAT and BEAMSPEC.DAT of the universe currently in use are then saved in the VPVCR directory. This will ensure that VPVCR will use the correct specs when an alternate ship list is in use.

VPSPAWN is now started. VPSPAWN changes to the drive and directory the VPVCR is located in, and spawns it. After termination, the old drive and directory are restored, and control is returned to the caller.

Finally, the backed up TORPSPEC.DAT and BEAMSPEC.DAT files are restored to the VPVCR directory.


Memory requirements
===================

VPUTIL by itself requires about 250 Kb of memory to run. However, data files are also needed for all commands to execute. The global data files account for about 23 Kb of memory. The player data, of course, vary greatly in size, depending on the number of assets a player owns, and how many messages are send. As a rule of thumb, the memory needed to store the player data is roughly twice the size of the result file.

So, for a typical mid game result file of about 40 Kb, the total amount of memory needed to run VPUTIL properly would be 225 + 23 + 80 = 328 Kb of free DOS memory. Typically, machines running MS DOS 5.0 or higher can have 500 to 600 Kb of free memory, depending on the number of device drivers and other resident programs. This should cause no problems. If you run into memory problems, kill some resident programs, or try to load less device drivers.

If you want to watch your battles from within VPUTIL (possible as of version 2.35), you need another 120 Kb of memory. This is because VPUTIL spawns the VCR program as a child process, instead of an overlay process. Again, with a normal configured system running MS DOS 5.0 or higher this should not cause any problems, since the requirements for a typical result file would raise to about 448 Kb.

Note that the above does not apply completely to the protected mode version of VPUTIL. The program and all of it's data will by default load in the available extended memory, leaving only the DPMI server/service provider in low (ie. 640 KB) memory. Only when not enough extended memory is available, (parts of) VPUTIL and it's data are loaded low.


Commands
========

In this section the available commands of VPUTIL will be covered. The general command line syntax is to issue one command and zero or more appropriate flags. A quick overview of the commands and flags follows below.

The commands are: The flags are:
mm Interactive Main Menu -wPath Specify work dir for player data
rh Report space ship hulls -p?? Specify player Id
re Report space ship engines -tm?? Specify minimal Tech Level
rw Report space ship beam weapons -t?? Specify (maximal) Tech Level
rt Report space ship torpedoes -sc Show Cost/Cargo/Colonists
ra eport deep space scan -sl Show Location
rc Report close range scan -sw Show Waypoints
rs Report own space ships -sr Show resources
rp Report all planets -sn Show natives
rb Report fought battles -so Show hulls in one list
cw Check waypoints of space ships -r?? Specify nearby range
cp Compile player turn files -rf Access result file directly.
un Unpack player result files -ro Read Only access
uc Uncompile player turn files -rt Decompile turn file directly
sb Watch all the battles -pw??? Specify password

There are five flags vaild for every command, so they will be listed here. All other flags and the meaning will be covered with the commands on which they act.

-wPath
------

Specifies the directory 'Path' in which the player data files can be found. VPUTIL will also look for the global data files in this specified directory. If it finds a complete set there, it will use them. Otherwise the current directory is assumed to contain these global data files. The latter is consistent with the behaviour of both PLANETS and HOST. The first possibility is an extention to allow games with different universes to be played and kept apart simultaniously.
If neither the specified directory nor the current directory contain a complete set of global data files, the startup directory (ie. the directory containing VPUTIL) is searched for these files.


-p??
----

Specifies the player number (ranging from 1 to 11) on which to perform the specified command. This flag may be omitted if there are only data files of one player in the specified directory.


-pw???
------

Specify the current password for the requested player's data files, if these have been protected by a password. Failing to specify the correct password results in a fatal error and immediately aborts the requested command. Note that in order for this option to operate, a password may not contain any spaces, since spaces are considered separators between commands and options on the command line.


-rf
--

Use the player result file (Player??.Rst) as the source of all player data instead of the normal data files generated by UNPACK. Using this option implies read-only access, since this data is used by MAKETURN to determine the data you have changed in order to generate the commands in the turn file send to the host. Tampering with this result file therefore would imply that incorrect commands would be send to the host. If only a player result file is present for the specified player, this option may be omitted, as the system will automatically use this result file.


-ro
---

This flag, when specified, blocks any changes you make to be written to the data files.


-rt
---

This flag, when specifies, overrules the current state of your game data and instead falls back to the state of the last turn file created. This is, of course, only possible whenever you have a turn file created for your current turn. It may be used with or without the -rf flag.
The effect of this flag is to allow you access to the game data as the uncompile command would give you, without actually performing a real uncompile action.
Note that using this flag also implies read only access, just as with the -rf flag.

 

Command cw
==========

This command checks the waypoints of all your space ships which have been given movement orders. Due to the implementation of the way the movement commands are given with the mouse, it happens frequently that the waypoint, originally set to a planet, moves slightly off due to an unintended mouse movement.

This command checks all your space ships to see if they have movement orders and if the specified waypoint is within a radius of n light years of a planet. If both conditions are true, the waypoint is adjusted to point to that planet. If a space ship is within the radius, but has no movement orders (ie. the warp factor is 0), it is left alone.


-r??
----

Specifies the range around a planet which triggers the waypoint adjustment. Any of your ships within the given range around a planet will be given a waypoint to that planet. If a ship falls within range of more than one planet, the nearest planet will be used. If not specified, the range defaults to 5 light years.


Command rh
==========

This command generates a report of all the possible space ship hulls a race can build. The report comes in two parts, hull capabilities and hull costs.

-t??
----

Specifies upto which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omitted, technology level 10 is assumed.


-tm??
-----

Specifies from which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omiiied, technology level 1 is assumed. If both this flag and the previous one are specified, a subrange of technology levels can be created. If in this case the value for this flag is larger than the value for the previous one, this flag is treated as if it was not specified.


-sc
---

Generate a report with the building cost of the space ship hulls, instead of the hull specifications.


-so
---

Generate a report showing which races have a hull in their arsenal. This switch overrules the -sc switch if both are specified.


-sl
---

Generate the report as one continuous list, instead of compiling a list on a per race basis. This switch can be used together with the -so or -sc switch.

 

Command re
==========

This command generates a report of all the possible space ship engines every race can mount on a space ship hull. The report shows both the cost and the fuel usage factors for every possible warp factor.


-t??
----

Specifies upto which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omitted, technology level 10 is assumed.


-tm??
-----

Specifies from which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omiiied, technology level 1 is assumed. If both this flag and the previous one are specified, a subrange of technology levels can be created. If in this case the value for this flag is larger than the value for the previous one, this flag is treated as if it was not specified.


Command rw
==========

This command generates a report of all the possible beam weapons every race can mount on a space ship hull. The report shows both the cost and the beam weapon effectiveness for both kill (crew) power and space hull destructive (explosive) power.

 
-t??
----

Specifies upto which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omitted, technology level 10 is assumed.


-tm??
-----

Specifies from which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omiiied, technology level 1 is assumed. If both this flag and the previous one are specified, a subrange of technology levels can be created. If in this case the value for this flag is larger than the value for the previous one, this flag is treated as if it was not specified.

 

Command rt
==========

This command generates a report of all the possible torpedo launchers every race can mount on a space ship hull. The report shows both the cost and the torpedo effectiveness for both kill (crew) power and space hull destructive (explosive) power. The last cost value is the cost to build one torpedo to be launched with the launcher. No cost for raw materials is given, since these values are 1 Duranium, 1 Tritanium and 1 Molybdenum for all possible torpedoes.

 
-t??
----

Specifies upto which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omitted, technology level 10 is assumed.


-tm??
-----

Specifies from which technology level the space ship hulls should be included in the report. If omiiied, technology level 1 is assumed. If both this flag and the previous one are specified, a subrange of technology levels can be created. If in this case the value for this flag is larger than the value for the previous one, this flag is treated as if it was not specified.


Command ra
==========

This command generates a report of the known information about all the space ships that are visible in the galaxy star chart (as red dots).

 

Command rp
==========

This command generates a report of all your own planets plus the planets which are within your scanning range. The report comes in four parts, the planet's core resources, the native population, the planet's colonists and the planet's surface resources.


-sr
---

Show the resources in the planet's core, instead of the resources on the planet's surface.


-sc
---

Show the colonist information + building structures, instead of the resources on the planet's surface. This flag overrules the sr flag when both are specified.


-sn
---

Show the native population information, instead of the resources on the planet's surface. This flag overrules both the sr and the sc flag when any combination of these flags is specified.

 

Command rc
==========

This command generates a report of the results of the close range subspace scans that were performed by your starbases and space ships. The report comes in two parts, the space ship class and direction information and the space ship locations. Note that enemy ships are still hidden from your scans whenever they are orbiting planets you don't own, but are within your scan range.


-sl
---

Show the locations of the space ships, instead of the space ship class and bearing information.


Command rs
==========

This command generates a report of the status of your own space ships. The report comes in four parts, the space ship's class and status, the space ship's locations, the space ship's cargo and the space ship's waypoint settings.

 
-sl
---

Show the locations of your space ships, instead of the ship's class and status.


-sw
---

Show the waypoint settings of your space ships, instead of the ship's class and status. This flag overrules the sl flag when both are specified.

 
-sc
---

Show the cargo bay contents of your space ships, instead of the ship's class and status. This flag overrules both the sl and the sw flag when any combination of these flags is specified.

 
Command un
==========

This command unpacks player result files, in the directory spefified. This command executes up to 20 times as fast as the original UNPACK utility, and it does NOT delete the original result (.RST) file upon completion. If no player is specified, all result files will be unpacked.

This command will put the shareware signature in the encrypted data, if you unpack to a directory which has no signature yet. A signature is automatically created whenever you leave PLANETS. Changing anything or not is not relevant in this case.

This is nothing to worry about when you are a registered user, since it is allowed to switch between registered and shareware versions of PLANETS, provided you did not change anything with PLANETS or any other tool to your unpacked data. So if you are a registered user, simply start with your registered copy and all will be fine.

Note that changing anything to your player data, no matter which tool or utility you use, will commit you for the current turn to the PLANETS version with the same signature. So if you unpack to a blank directory and run VPUTIL with the mm command directly, you are committed (for the current turn) to the shareware version of PLANETS. However, if a signature was already present during unpacking, it will be retained and all essential data, needed for the MAKETURN utility will be updated as well.

Note, however, that this is a special feature of this command and not a standard feature of the original UNPACK utility. The UNPACK utility does not update some of the essential encrypted data, needed by MAKETURN to function properly. If you use the standard UNPACK utility, you MUST run PLANETS before running MAKETURN, since only PLANETS in the standard VGA Planets 3.0 package will create this data. Note also that VPUTIL is capable of creating this data upon termination, but only with a shareware signature.


Command cp
==========

This command compiles player turn files, and as such is a replacement for the standard MAKETURN program. This command can compile the turn files upto 20 times faster than the MAKETURN program, depending on the hardware you use. Just as with the unpack command, this command achieves it's performance by processing the data files in memory, instead of using heavy disk access. If no player Id is specified, all players are assumed.

Just as with MAKETURN, when you play different races with the same registered PLANETS program, this command will place the necessary data in the turn file so the host will accept them as coming from one machine. This prevents the Tim Continuum from striking.


Command uc
==========

This command rolls back any changes made to the universe data since the last time a turn file was compiled. It uses the same technique for this as the host does. The universe is reset to the same state as was stored in the result file, and then all commands stored in the turn file are executed. Provided there was no error, this produces the same universe state as was present at the time the turn file was compiled. The result file does not have to be present in order for this command to function.

 
Command sb
==========

This command will call up the VCR program with all of your battles fed to it. You are able to watch the battles in exactly the same way as you would have, had you requested your battles from within PLANETS itself. After you terminate the VCR program, you are returned directly to the command shell.


Command mm
==========

This command enables the interactive system of VPUTIL. On screen appears a main menu from which you can choose an action. Selecting an action can be achieved using the arrow keys. Selecting an action is done with the ENTER key. With the ESCAPE key you will return to the command prompt of DOS.

General notes for using this system. You don't have to sell supply units manually before buying new objects. This system handles this automatically. If max. values apply to certain fields, these values are shown on the right of the field in green. It is not possible to build more than the max. allowed value. You can undo all build commands simply by lowering the value again. Undo is possible upto the value as was stored in the result file. In numeric fields you can enter a desired value directly.

When you want to browse through ships, planets or VCRs, and there is more than one available to choose from, a list is shown instead of the window with the detailed information. Simply pressing the ENTER key on a selected ship, planet or VCR brings you to that object. From then on you will be browsing in the detailed information. Pressing the END or ESCAPE key returns you to the list. In the list view all function keys which are available in the detailed windows are still operating. When using one of them, the action is performed on the currently selected ship or planet.

When entering a new value in a field, the value is accepted whenever one of the specified special keys (except the ESCAPE key) is pressed. The ENTER key acts as an ARROW DOWN key by advancing to the next field, if possible. Fields which hold one value out of a set (such as orders) can be activated with the ENTER key. A menu with items to choose from will be presented. A new value is entered by selecting the correct item and pressing the ENTER key. Pressing the ESCAPE key leaves the original value unchanged.


-r???
-----

Specify the range to target which is considered nearby. Any distance shorter or equal to the specified range is nearby. For any other distance the position will be marked as Deep Space. This option is only relevant to your own and enemy space ships. If not specified, the range defaults to 5 light years.

 

General key assignments within the interactive system:

ENTER Select an action and executes it.
ESCAPE Abort current action and return to the previous level.
ARROW KEYS Move around within current level and highlight a selection.
END End current action and return to the previous level.
PAGEUP Go to the previous page of information.
PAGEDOWN Go to the next page of information.


Key assignments within the Planet Detailed Screen:

F2 Show scoring information.
F3 Show detailed scoring information of current planet.
F4 Show detailed scoring information of current starbase.
F5 Show the configuration menu. From this menu browsers for the various HCONFIG settings may be called. When in a browser, the PAGEUP and PAGEDOWN keys allow direct access to the other browsers.
SHIFT F5 Show the global specifications menu. From this menu browsers for the hull specs, beam weapon specs, engine specs and torpedo specs may be called. When in a browser, the PAGEUP and PAGEDOWN keys allow direct access to the other browsers.
F6 Show a list of space ships in orbit of the planet.
SHIFT F6 Show a list of ships that are actively on route to this planet.
F7 Show a mining survey.
SHIFT F7 Show a projected resource screen, showing how much resources will be present over the given number of turns. Cargo of ships that are on route is added at the time of arrival, calculated from their ETA.
F8 Show the defense strength of the current planet/starbase.
F9 If a starbase is present, manage it's inventory and build new ships. Otherwise, build or cancel building a starbase.
F10 Show a menu with the above commands.
+ Increment the value of current field (if possible).
- Decrement the value of current field (if possible).
ALT M Build max. possible mines.
ALT F Build max. possible factories.
ALT D Build max. possible defense posts.
ALT R Randomize the friendly code.
ALT C Sell all supplies and convert them to MC's.
ALT S Undo selling of supplies.
M Build one mine (same as in PLANETS).
F Build one factory (same as in PLANETS).
D Build one defense post (same as in PLANETS).
TAB Moves to the first field of the next section.
SHIFT TAB Moves to the first field of the previous section.

Key assignments within the Space Ship Detailed Screen:

F2 Show scoring information.
F3 Show detailed scoring information of current space ship.
F5 Show the configuration menu.
SHIFT F5 Show the global specifications menu.
F6 Show a list of space ships at the same location.
F7 Show a window with the possible capabilities of the hull.
F8 Show the defense strength of the current space ship.
F9 Manage the ship's cargo bay.
F10 Show a menu with the above commands.
ALT R Randomize the friendly code.
ALT U Unload all cargo from a Trans 1 or Trans 2 field.
ALT M Load all cargo to a Trans 1 or Trans 2 field.
+ Increment the value of current field (if possible).
- Decrement the value of current field (if possible).
TAB Moves to the first field of the next section.
SHIFT TAB Moves to the first field of the previous section.

Note: To beam cargo to an enemy ship, use the column under Trans 2. When more than one enemy ship is present at the same location, you must first select an enemy ship by moving the highlight bar to the 'Transporter 2' field and press ENTER. Once a ship has been selected, the Trans 2 column will be enabled.


Key assignments within the Space Ship Transport Cargo Screen:

ALT M Load selected item to max. allowed value.
ALT U Unload selected item to min. allowed value.
+ Increment the value of current field (if possible).
- Decrement the value of current field (if possible).

Note: To change the transport target to another ship (or back to the planet), move the highlight bar to the transport target field and press ENTER.


Key assignments within the Enemy Ship Detailed Screen:

F2 Show scoring information.
F5 Show the configuration menu.
SHIFT F5 Show the global specifications menu.
F6 Show a list of space ships at the same location.
F7 Show a window with the possible capabilities of the hull.
F10 Show a menu with the above commands.


Key assignments within the Starbase Inventory Screen:

F7 Show a window with the specs of the selected item. When engines, beam weapons or torpedoes are current, a list containing specs for all available items is shown.
SHIFT F7 Call up the hull specs browser. Just as when this browser is called from the main menu, the current race is selected, but with the PAGEUP and PAGEDOWN keys other races may be called up.
TAB Toggle between the inventory list and the inventory pages.
SHIFT TAB Same as TAB key.
INSERT Add the selected component to the space ship to be created. When another element of the same page was already selected, it will be disassembled, before the new part is put in place. In case of a previous selected hull, the entire ship is dismanteled. This command adds the max allowed for the selected parts. If this is too many, you may remove single elements with the DELETE key. If there are not enough parts in stock, they will be build.
DELETE Delete a component from the space ship to be created.
+ Add a component to the starbase stock.
- Remove a component from the starbase stock.
PAGEUP Advance to the previous components page.
PAGEDOWN Advance to the next components page.


Key assignments within the Battle Specifications Screen:

F7

Show a window with the possible capabilities of the hull. This action is not available in list modus.

F8 Watch the selected battle played with VCR.
SHIFT F8 Watch all the battles played with VCR.
PAGEUP Advance to the previous battle.
PAGEDOWN Advance to the next battle.


General notes you should be aware of:
------------------------------------  

When using the cargo transporter, it is possible that the system allows for less cargo or fuel than is theoretically possible. This is caused by the second beam transporter (ie. the transporter to enemy ships). Because the system does not know if the host can actually perform this beam command, cargo present in this transporter is still considered part of the cargo of your ship, thus taking up space. This is to prevent loading cargo ABOVE the specified limits.

The battle browser may occasionally report the wrong ship as the ship used. This is because the host transmits a Picture Id instead of a Hull Id. When more than one ship uses the same picture, this may lead to confusion. VPUTIL, however, does it's best to determine which ship was actually used in battle, matching the current mass, mounted beam weapons, torpedo launchers and fighter bays as closely as possible with the stored hull specifications.  

If a HCONFIG.HST file is found in the game data directory, some fields are used to determine the actual tax income, mining rate and fuel usage (for cloaked ships only). When no such file is found, or the file contains less fields than the most recent HOST version uses, internal defaults are used instead. These defaults are the same as for the most recent HOST version.

With the host 3.1x versions, a configuration table is used for each player to determine the actual tax and mining ratios, instead of the per race build in fixed ratios the host 3.00x versions used. VPUTIL provides access to the HCONFIG.HST file (ie. the HOST 3.1x configuration file) to retrieve these values in order to calculate the various ratios correctly. It also implies that in your local HCONFIG.HST file the same values must be stored as your game host uses. The same holds true for the cloaked fuel usage rate, also a new HOST 3.1x feature. This value is now taken into account when the fuel usage is calculated. This means that even a stationary ship can now have a fuel usage!

Differences between shareware and registered mode:
-------------------------------------------------

Registered players can transfer fighters in deep space between any of their carriers, if they are located at the same location, just as with PLANETS itself. VPUTIL allows this feature for torpedo ships as well. Note that in order to use this new feature, the torpedo launchers of the ships must be of the same type. Shareware players may not transfer fighters or torpedoes directly between ships.  

When selecting a waypoint for one of your ships, the system prompts for a max. range first. The max. possible range is 750 for registered users, 200 for shareware players. However, if the HOST program is NOT patched, it is not capable to handle waypoint displacements of more than 200 light years in either x or y direction. In this case, you can use this feature only to determine fuel usage over a longer distance.

Registered players are allowed to fix a foreign ship at one of their own starbases. Note that this only applies for damage repairs, not refitting with either fighters or torpedoes. Shareware players may only fix ships they own by themselves.

Registered players are allowed to raise all tech levels to level 10. Raising tech levels is limited to level 6 for shareware players.

Registered players can see the actual state value for happyness states for both their colonists and the natives. Shareware players can only view the state category.

Comments
========

When you have comments or find bugs, please do not hesitate to contact us. Also, if you have ideas on how to expand the program or have suggestions for new commands or options, please contact us.


Our email address is:

FIDO:      'Jan Peter Dijkstra' at 2:283/323.0 or 2:283/323.12

INTERNET:  jan-peter@saluton.iaf.nl or j.p.dijkstra@sysma6.cnt.antenna.nl


We can also be contacted by mail. Our mail address is:

Sysma Automatisering
tav. J.P. Dijkstra
Fazantstraat 169
7523 DP  Enschede
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 53 337410
Fax:   +31 53 311090

 

 
 
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