VGA-Planets is an ever-interesting
space-faring game. Playing against at most ten human opponents, you have to
build your economy, put your diplomatic skills to the test and fight it out
when those fail. The eleven different races each have their own set of
capabilities, guaranteeing quite different play, even when the players are the
same, but play other races.
The author of the game, Tim, has managed a very good game balance, given all
those different capabilities, but he is not a very good programmer. As a
consequence, his "encrypted" data structures have been broken long ago. This
resulted in a set of additional client programs, releaving the bad features and
omissions of the original clients.
Together with the low price of the registered client, and friendly responses
from Tim on most types of questions, this has shown some behaviour not unlike
the Free Software movement (except VGAP itself is not free).
Utilities for Players
Note: all my software is written for DosPlan 3.x, not for WinPlan.
Speed is no longer an issue for VGAP. Whereas Tim's software used to be slow,
Moore has taken away the problem. 500 planets and 500 ships is not very much,
even when you multiply by a couple of dozen fields.
However, portability remains an issue. All my utilities run at least on
Linux, but most on more systems (typically the entire *nix suite). JVPC runs on
any JVM I have tried, so has even more hardware to run on.
New in my series: Ruby VGAP Viewer
which attempts to give an overview of data on the starmap (currently only
planets, but already shows minerals, natives, temperature, MC, supplies and
colonists. Interesting is the query feature, as well as the host
simulation that will take additional user-set data into acount).
Using a stand-alone blitz client (or plugin with JVC)
See the blitz page.
Still active (though considering to put the effort in Lars Dam's JVC instead)
See the JVPC homepage (beta
software; all basic features available); jarfile provided).
Older stuff, for which I'll handle bug-reports, but are not otherwise
- A new version of unpack,
K-Unpack (6k). Written in C, simple,
straightforward, works perfectly. I still use it as reference.
- A new version of maketurn,
(17k, 2nd of June 1998). Written in C, works nicely.
- Both programs above and a utility for displaying lots of
information are in K-Util 0.5d
K-util 0.9f3 (42k, 8th of June 1998). Unpack and Maketurn are
integrated (i.e. need no longer be run separately) and now all
information (including PHost generated util??.dat) is read and written. More or
less in C++, much more complicated than version 0.5.
I am not sure OO is a good way to make utils for VGA-Planets. The setup of
the data totally lacks OO-view. Feedback?
Programs for hosts
- A program to display
(9kb) shot in both PHost and TimHost (especially for PHost).
- A set of hosting scripts (beta
version, bash (unix) only, 35k, 8th of June 1998), including scripts for
installation and mail-filtering, documentation for host and player and support
for multiple games, configurable as different as you like it. Online docs for
the host and the players is
available. Not supported at the moment...
- Some blitz-game scripts for host and client. Also take a look at the blitz-page.
When I made my utilities, I found a lot (I hope all) about the data format of
the result, the turn and the player files (all DosPlan). The format of the
player files can be found in the PlanMap header file
of A.M. van den Bos, updated by Christopher Croughton and me.
formats are mine. Next to that I found the formats of
some other files
has an overview of manymany datafiles involved on the host- and player-side,
DosPlan and WinPlan. Even some 3rd party datafiles are described.
A series of TimHost messages to help people write
parsers for them.
The VGA-Planets Programming Ring
Need more information than I have? This webring contains some other sites with
(I've been thrown out? For no apparent reason? No reply to my mail? What's
going on? Now I've moved my page, too!)
Some VGA-Planets Pages
- the monthly
- Donovan, at which I look a
lot at TimHost Help
- PHost, the portable host for VGA-planets,
faster, more configurable and more predictable than Tim's host. Version 4 is
out! (beat Tim to that :)
- A good
with all kinds of add on software for VGA-planets. But there is much more
- The best DOS Client for Planets I have seen so far VPA,
- The best VGAP Viewer (until RVV surpasses it :) EchoView,
- A page with more
Additional Useful Links
As you might suspect, I work with UNIX and use a lot of GNU-software. That is
open source software and there are even versions for DOS ( djgpp (version
2) and make
(file gmake*.zip); there is other usefull stuff here).
For JVPC, we also test Kaffe, a
completely open source Java environment (except the DOS release, which is
Furthermore, we use Jikes,
a java source-to-bytecode compiler written in C++ by IBM. It is much
faster than javac and handles our source perfectly. It is also open source, be
it a little different from GPL.
All available help in PLANETS.EXE in text format (and then zipped) is
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