VGA Planets


VGA Planets

VGA Planets is a strategy, turn-based, multiplayer computer game for the PC, produced as shareware by Tim Wisseman. Older versions worked under DOS; the newer versions also work under Microsoft Windows. In addition, there are now cross-platform third-party tools, including clients written in Java.

History

The game became well known in 1994 with version 3, although the prior version 2.2 was already played worldwide. Version 3 allows up to 11 players to join, each of them leading one of the 11 possible races; in version 4 this limit has been removed, and several instances of the same race can be played independently by different players.

The predefined races are modeled after Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, though custom races can be created with special tools. Each predefined race has some special powers and specific fields of expertise (for example: Cyborgs can assimilate native races into colonists; Robots are expert minelayers; Birdmen excel at spy tactics and cloaking).

VGA Planets follows the 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit & eXterminate) model: The players start with a homeworld, and have to build spaceships, explore the galaxy, colonize planets, mine minerals, build up their industry, etc. The game has no built-in victory condition: the players have to agree on one before starting a game.

Gameplay

A game is set up using three programs: a master program that allows the creation of a universe with the desired characteristics; a host program that acts as a server; and a copy of the client program for each player. Clients up to version 3.0 were DOS programs; from version 3.5 on there were clients for Windows.

First, the host sends a file with the initial conditions to each player. The client program allows the player to view data about the game and make decisions. Once the player has finished giving orders for the turn, either the client program or an external helper program takes the data, creates a turn file (usually with a .TRN extension), and sends it to the host person, who feeds all the turn files into the host program. The host processes all the turns and creates new status files (usually with a .RST extension), which are then sent back to the players. This process can be fully automated (the host can be an automatic server).

At the time that the game gained popularity, LANs and the Internet were not generally available to the public, so VGA Planets was primarily played via dial-up bulletin board systems (BBS), gradually moving to email as it became more widely available. The turn files and the game status files were transferred to and from the BBS or by email manually. This required games to have a regular hosting schedule.

See also

* Stars!

External links

* [http://www.planets4.com/ The official VGA Planets site (not current for VGAP4)]
* [http://home.comcast.net/~twisseman/vgap/v4home.htm Tim Wisseman's current VGA Planets 4 site]
* [http://wiki.planetmaker.de/ VGA Planets 3 Wiki]
* [http://planets4.hood-net.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page VGA Planets 4 Wiki]
* [http://www.circus-maximus.com/ Circus-Maximus.com]


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