VGA Planets Super Site

By Steel Rat

(aka: Michael Lemieux- VJNK46E)

OK, I know you've all been wondering "where the heck is that stinkin' Rat's class? He's late without an excuse again! We oughta fine him or something." Well, in honor of the football season, I decided to hold out for more bucks even though I'm under contract. I thought I could get the Academy to cut lose for some more MCs (or at least a bag of Doritos or Donuts), but the Dean here is tougher than nails & didn't budge an inch. So now, I've reported back, I'm in great shape (puff,puff), only wanna help the team, have no hard feelings, will play my best even though the Academy is screwing me, just wait until free agency (gimme a while & I could come up with some more of your favorite cliches).

Anyway, as advertised, here is an overview of THE PORTABLE HOST for the DOS version of VGAP program and how it makes some really intelligent changes. I won't list every difference, but I think when you see what PHost can do, you'll want to send in a suggestion to the fine folks at SpaceNet management that all non-Winplan games use PHost.

Oh, which brings up the first point. PHost does have a new version out that is supposed to work with Winplan. But, I havn't had a chance to play it yet, so I can't really say much about it. From what I've heard from my snitches...I mean my reliable sources, it's pretty similar to the old PHost version. OK, here we go:

Combat in PHost is different. PHost uses a different VCR program (the one that allows you to view your battles) than host 3.15, so you'll have to make some changes in your .exe files. It is well worth it however. PHost VCR allows you to stop action & slow-step the display so you can see things like torp hits/misses. It also fixes that old bug of the "left side advantage" in 3.15 as well as those aggravating occurrences when a ship's beams refuse to fire or fighters forget to launch.

PHost allows the addition of torpedo tubes for planetary defense which can make taking planets with a lot of defense posts much harder. The tech of the torps and the number of tubes follows formulas similar to the ones for fighters & beams generated from def posts. Planets can also capture ships if the attackers crew is wiped out. Damage to the shields and def posts of a planet is remembered from the preceeding battle during the same turn (your ships no longer have to blast thru the shields all over again if the first ship in dies).

Movement thru minefields is much more realistic. If a ship hits a mine, damage is sustained with an appropriate change in maximum warp, then travel is continued. So you can't have a ship hit a mine in the 1st couple LYs of travel while blazing thru at warp 9 and expect it to go the full 81 LYs. Cloaked ships that hit a mine immediately lose their cloak if enough damage is taken to prevent cloaking and then continue thru the minefield in an uncloaked (ie higher hit probability) state.

The ship building queue is much more intelligent. Ship building slots are now filled according to when the request is entered. So a ship build request that is entered on turn 75 is slotted before one entered on turn 76. For multiple ship requests entered on the same turn, slots are chosen by SB number order. However, the first request during a specific turn taken is randomly chosen. So the first ship slotted could be at SB #1 or it could be at SB #333. After the first request is slotted, all remaining requests follow according to SB number order.

All messages from your ships are condensed. So for things like minesweeps, sensor sweeps, dark sense, super spy, you'll only receive one message (sure makes reading your mail easier). Both ships AND planets may be turned over to the control of your allies.

OK, so you say a couple of these (and quite a few other features I havn't mentioned, like multi-messaging, anonymous messaging and the like) are now included in Winplan (in fact it certainly APPEARS that many of the new features of Winplan are due to PHost), so what do you need PHost for? Well let me tell you the big advantage of PHost then you trouble-maker you! It seems, especially here in SpaceNet, that there is a call for "team games". But VGAP, both DOS and Winplan, make it very labor intensive for teams to operate together and share information. The PHost Alliance command solves that problem. By entering certain commands within the game message system, any number of players can share information and make interaction of player ships/planets much more intelligent. What are these alliance commands you say?

They are:

  1. SHIP ALLIANCE LEVEL : Treats your allies' ships as if they were your ships. You don't gain control of ally ships, but you will see all ships your allies' can see, you will be able to see your allies' cloaked ships and be able to tow them if need be, and if your ally is the Privateer, your ships won't be robbed.
  2. PLANET ALLIANCE LEVEL : Your allies' planets will be treated as your planets for most ship missions. You won't need matching friendly codes to beam stuff up or for bases to refuel or load torps. The Fed player can Super Refit at any ally starbase. You can also drop off colos without initiating a ground war, they just become part of the population of the planet.
  3. MINEFIELD ALLIANCE LEVEL : Ally minefields or web fields will not attack ally ships and ally ships will not sweep ally minefields (no friendly code matches have to be worried about). Overlapping allied minefields will not attack each other.
  4. COMBAT ALLIANCE LEVEL : Ally planets and ships will never attack one another (over-rides Kill Missions, Primary Enemy sets and the NUK/ATT codes).
  5. VISION ALLIANCE LEVEL : All messages you generate by mine sweeps, sensor sweeps, explorations, super spy, and dark sense missions are condensed and sent to all ally players. However, say you have a Vision alliance with player 1 and player 2, but they don't have Vision alliances with each other. You will send the messages your ships generate to both players but you will not forward along the messages player 1 generates to player 2. Each Alliance level is seperate and independent of one another. One or all of the Alliance levels can be initiated or turned off at any time by any of the allies in the group. You will get an Alliance Status Report every turn in your message file so you can see what your alliance agreements are and if any changes have been made without notice (handy if you don't totally trust your allies!!)

PHost also offers a Wormhole add-on that works pretty much like all the other Wormhole add-ons. The nice thing about it though is you don't have to worry about it may causing some wierd things to happen within the game like some of the add-ons do. If you want the complete docs to PHost, just drop me a line and I'll send them out to you. They're nowhere near as long as the docs to VGAP. What class will I teach next quarter? Havn't decided yet, but it may have to wait until the end of the fight...I mean the hockey season.

File originally hosted at Spacenet, posted at Donovan's with permission.

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