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S H I P S O U L

ShipSoul v1.0

ShipSoul is a powerful and flexible tool for VGA-Planets players.

Its basic feature is the ShipSoul Engine that enables a player to maintain two different and separate sets of ship names. One set is kept secret: these names can be used by the player to make notes of the ship's mission.
The second set is send to the host and can be seen by all other players in the game.

ShipSoul is the fourth in a series VGAP utils called Timo's Tools.


The ShipSoul Engine

 

Features:

  • two sets of names: a secret and a public one
  • easy configuration file(s) to suit your personal playing style
  • once installed in batch files it runs every turn without your attention
  • the in-game warning message system comes complete with Winplan BMPs
  • simple command line interface accepts DOS paths and multiple games
  • renames new ships in both sets automatically on the fly
  • new ship names can be supplied in a simple plain text file
  • new names are picked sequentially or at random, with or without prefix
  • multiple options when changing to the public set of names, for example: refresh, shuffle or invert all public names
  • incoming host messages are changed to show the secret names again
  • a build-in and a user-definable message filter system available
  • enemy ship names can be automatically saved and re-used as your own
  • secret ship names of your allies can be shown in the starmap
  • compatible with DosPlan, WinPlan and VPA
  • runs on a system with a 286 processor or higher, no co-processor needed

    Registered only:

  • enemy ships on the starmap can automatically be renamed at your choice


    The BASIC PRINCIPLE
    ShipSoul manages two sets of ship names for you. There are four commands to control those two sets: for every set there is a command to write the set to your game data and a command to save the set to an archive file.
    The commands are given on the DOS command line:

    ShipSoul <command>
    To control your set of secret names - this is the set that only you can see - you use the BACKUP and RESTORE commands:
    BACKUP will copy the ship names as they are in your game data and save them to the archive file where your secret names are stored.
    (This file is called shipXown.dat, where X is your race number).
    RESTORE will load the ship names from your archive file of secret names and write them to your game data.
    The other two commands (INSTALL and COVER) do the same for the second set of names: the public names that can be seen by all other players:
    INSTALL will copy the ship names as they are in your game data and save them to the archive file where your public names are stored.
    (This file is called shipXfoe.dat, where X is your race number).
    COVER will load the ship names from your archive file of public names and write them to your game data.
    There are more commands than these four but those will be explained later.

     


    How to use ShipSoul?

    You unpack your result file, and call ShipSoul to RESTORE your own secret names. Use ShipSoul just like you would use any other VGAP util:
    shipsoul <command> <directory>
    You start Planets and you can now see your own notes as you wrote them in the ship names. You make your ship moves, change the ship names again if you want etc, and you quit Planets. Then you call ShipSoul again to COVER up your ship names again. You make your .TRN file and send it to your host. And nothing that your host and all other players can ever see of your secret ship names!

     


    INSTALLATION

     


    Note to impatient users:
    You'll have to edit the config file before ShipSoul will run. You might try editing it at your own, but I'll advice you to read these docs first.

    Installing ShipSoul happens in 7 steps:

    Step 1. Install the executables
    Step 2. Copy the config file
    Step 3. Install the Winplan BMPs
    Step 4. Edit the configuration file
    Step 5. Create the ShipSoul archive files
    Step 6. Insert ShipSoul in batch files
    Step 7. Install the ship name files
    Step 1. Install the executables
    Put the ShipSoul executable somewhere on your hard drive, the place is entirely at your choice. However your planets directory might seem an handy place.

    Step 2. Copy the config file
    Make a copy of the configuration file for every race you're playing, and put them in the proper game directory.

    Step 3. Install the Winplan BMPs
    When you're using Winplan, put the enclosed BMPs into the BMP directory inside the Winplan directory. I checked the auxiliary BMP numbers with Tim Wisseman, and those numbers are now assigned to me. Therefore the ShipSoul BMPs won't interfere with BMPs of other utils and host add-ons.


    Step 4. Edit the configuration file
    Next step involves editing the configuration file. For ease of explaining the config file has been split into pieces. Please note that the settings don't appear in the same sequence as they should be in the config file.
    Once you know what the settings mean, it should be easier to edit the config file to suit your playing style.

      General
      [ShipSoul]
      Version                               = beta 4          (1)
      
      [General]
      Player number                         = 10              (2)
    1. The version number in this first part of the config file is for future comparability. Don't change it.
    2. Enter your race number in the first config setting of the [General] section. Enter 1 if you're playing the Federation, enter 2 if you're playing the Lizards (or Gorn) etc. Possible race numbers are: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,a,b,A and B.


      Your secret set of ship names
      The following settings apply to your secret set of names. You use these settings to let ShipSoul change your secret set of ship names.

      [Own ship names]
      Rename new ships                      = yes             (7)
      Use random name from List             = no              (8)
      Use prefix when renaming              = No              (9)
      Delete used names from List           = YES             (10)
      Delete unused names from Archive      = YES             (11)
      
      [Prefixes]
      Own ship names                        = none            (20)
      
      [Files]
      List of own ship names                = rebels.nam      (22)
    3. If you want ShipSoul to rename any new ship in your secret set of shipnames, enter YES. A new ship is a ship that is either newly build or just captured in battle in the last turn. (To be precise: a new ship has an ID that is not recorded in your 'shipXown.dat' archive file.)
      If you enter NO, you will have to give your new ships their names yourself.
    4. If you want ShipSoul to take a random name from your list of ship names (see below at setting #20) and not the first name of the list, enter YES. When ShipSoul is not renaming your secret ship names, this setting does nothing.
    5. If you want ShipSoul to use a prefix like 'USS' when renaming your new ships, enter YES. Read more about the use of prefixes in the 'More about prefixes' section below.
    6. When ShipSoul has used a (random) name from your list of ship names, you can choose to delete that name from the list or to keep it in the list. If you don't delete the name you might end up in ships having identical names.
    7. ShipSoul remembers the ship ID and secret ship name in your secret set of ship names. If a ship gets for example destroyed or captured or more in general when you don't own a ship any more, its information is still available in the archive files if you enter NO.
      If you don't delete this information a new ship having the same name as the destroyed ship will have the same name as the previous ship with that ID. Similar: if you re-capture the ship, it will have its old name back. In the end you will have a file with 500 ship names, one name for every possible ship ID number.
      If you do delete the info, every new or newly captured ship will get a fresh, new name from your list of ship names.
    8. If you've set option 9 to YES, enter your prefix here. If you don't want a prefix, enter nothing or anything you want: that doesn't matter.
    9. Enter the name of your list of ship names here. Your list should be a simple plain text file, located in your game directory. There are sample lists included in the ShipSoul package.
      If ShipSoul is not renaming your secret names, you don't have to enter anything here.


      Your public set of ship names
      The public set of names has similar options as your secret set of ship names. To annoy your opponents a couple of new settings has been added.

      [Cover names]
      Rename new ships                      = YES             (12)
      Use random name from List             = no              (13)
      Use prefix when renaming              = YES             (14)
      Reverse new names                     = NO              (15)
      Rename all ships                      = NO              (16)
      Shuffle all names                     = NO              (17)
      Delete used names from List           = YES             (18)
      Delete unused names from Archive      = YES             (19)
      
      [Prefixes]
      Cover names                           = FX              (21)
      
      [Files]
      List of cover names                   = SHIP500.txt     (23)
    10. Controls the automatic renaming of new ships in the public set of ship names. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.
    11. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.
    12. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.
    13. This setting will write any new public ship names from right to left instead of from left to right. If this setting is YES, a name as for example 'USS Saratoga ' will be written as ' agotaraS SSU'. Of course this setting can be used in combination other settings like random name, prefix etc.
    14. If this setting is YES, every ship in your game data will get a fresh, new name. To maximize the joy of your opponents :-) this setting can be used in combination other settings like random name, prefix etc.
    15. This setting will shuffle all public names of the ships in your game data. If you enter YES, all the public ship names currently in use will be randomized (after any new ship has had its new name).
    16. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.
    17. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.
    18. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.
    19. Similar as described in section 'Your secret set of ship names'.


      Miscellanious Settings

      [General]
      Replace ship names in host messages   = YES             (3)
      Replace allied ship names in messages = YES             (4)
      Save enemy ship names to file         = YES             (5)
      Rename enemy ships (targets)          = NO              (6)
      
      [Files]
      List of enemy ship names              = enemy.lst       (24)
      
      [Misc]
      Allied race(s) for scanning messages  = 1b              (25)
      Race(s) to save names of              = 23584           (26)
    20. When you send your .TRN file to your host, that file contains your public ship names. These names will also turn up in the messages generated by the host program. When you RESTORE your secret ship names and this setting is YES, ShipSoul will scan your host messages for public names and replace them for your secret ship names. Read more about this in the 'Scanning the host messages' section below.
    21. If you have access to the ShipSoul files of your allies or when you are playing multiple races in the same game, ShipSoul will also replace their public ship names for secret ship names in your host messages if this setting is YES.
      You will have to enter the race numbers of your allies in setting #25.
    22. If this setting is YES, ShipSoul will scan your starmap for enemy ship names and save them in a list of ship names to file. You will have to enter the file name in setting #24, and the races you want to copy the ship names from in setting #26.
    23. If this setting is YES, ShipSoul will rename the enemy ships as they appear on your starmap.
    24. If setting 5 is YES, enter here the name of the file in which you want to save the ship names of your opponents.
    25. If setting 4 is YES, enter here the race numbers of your allies. Possible race numbers are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,a and b.
    26. If setting 5 is YES, enter here the race numbers of your opponents you want to copy the ship names from. Possible race numbers are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,a and b.
    There is more info about the config file below.


    Step 5. Create the ShipSoul archive files
    Depending on the settings you've chosen, you might need to create some archive files for ShipSoul.
    If you want ShipSoul to rename new ships in your public set of names, do the following:

  • Start Planets, and change your ship names to the names you want your opponents to see on their starmap.
  • Save the ship names in your game data to your public set of names by invoking the INSTALL command:
    ShipSoul INSTALL
    If you want ShipSoul to rename new ships in your secret set of names, do the same thing again but use the BACKUP command.


    Step 6. Insert ShipSoul in batch files
    Make sure that you won't forget to install your public ship names before you send your game data to your host! The most convenient way to do this is to call ShipSoul in the batch files you use to call Unpack, Maketurn, Randmax, Tyranny etc. (You are using batch files, aren't you?!? Anyway if you're not, this is a good moment to start!)

    The general setup is to use the RESTORE command after you've unpacked your fresh .RST file and before you start up Planets. You should use the COVER command after you've finished your moves and before you make your .TRN file.

    For Planets v3.0 for DOS:
    Create two batch files like the following two:

     

    At the begin of your turn:

    @echo off
    rem
    rem BeginFas.bat
    rem
    rem goes in your planets directory
    rem
    unpack game2
    shipsoul restore game2
    planets game2

    At the end your turn:

    @echo off
    rem
    rem EndFas.bat
    rem
    rem goes in your planets directory
    rem
    shipsoul cover game2
    maketurn game2

    Of course you're free to choose the names of these batch files.

    For Winplan v3.5 for Windows:
    Winplan checks for specific batch files in your VPWORKx directory on several occasions. It checks for a batch file called UNPROC2.BAT file right after unpacking your game data.

    @echo off
    rem
    rem Unproc2.bat
    rem
    rem goes in your game directory (vpworkX)
    rem
    c:\games\winplan\shipsoul.exe restore c:\games\winplan\vpwork2\
    Unfortunately the regular versions of Winplan do not check for a batch file that runs just before maketurn. That is: the REGULAR version of Winplan! Tim Wisseman (the author of VGA-Planets) has a special edition of the latest version of Winplan (v3.52.005) that does check for such a batch file. The file is called 'wp35005a.zip' and Tims e-mail address is as you already might know <[email protected]>.
    When you've obtained this special version, you simply create the following batch file called PRETURN.BAT:
    @echo off
    rem
    rem Preturn.bat
    rem
    rem goes in your game directory (vpworkX)
    rem
    c:\games\winplan\shipsoul.exe cover c:\games\winplan\vpwork2\
    Well, and if you can't get your hands on that special version of Winplan, you'll have to create a similar batch file and call it by hand every time before you hit the maketurn button.


    Step 7. Install the ship name files
    Depending on the settings you've chosen and the file names you've entered in the config file, you will have to put the lists of ship names in the game directory. Use the sample ship name files as included in the ShipSoul package, or create your own. Read the PowerUser tips to see where to get more files with ship names.


    Important Note:
    ShipSoul needs a certain file (called FIZZ.BIN) before it can operate. This file is created by Planets/Winplan the first time you run Planets/Winplan in your game directory.
    So if you want to install ShipSoul in a game you're just about to start with, don't forget to run Planets/Winplan on your first result file before calling ShipSoul.



    MORE INFO

     


    More Commands
    Next to the BACKUP, RESTORE, INSTALL and COVER commands described above, you can use the following commands:

  • The CONFIG command writes a default config file called 'ShipSoul.cfg' in your planets directory. Call:
    shipsoul config
    If there is already a file called 'ShipSoul.cfg' it will be overwritten. Use this command when you've lost your config file or when you're edited it beyond repair. Don't forget to edit the new config file.
  • For complete mayhem: the INVERT command! It inverts all your ship names in the
    current game data<=> - it writes all names right-to-left instead of left-to-right.
    This happens no matter whether the ships in your game data shows your own (secret) names or the cover (public) names. So be warned!

    Usage:

    shipsoul invert <directory>
    Use it once in a while (or once a turn :-) to invert all your current cover names, and turn on the 'Invert new ship name' config setting to invert all new ship names automatically.
    Don't forget to save your cover names using the INSTALL command.

    Recommendation:
    Use this only on your cover names! (But who am I to complain if you don't? :-)

     

  • The SCAN command scans for enemy ship names and saves them to a file.
    Usage:
    shipsoul scan <directory>
    This command is controlled by the following lines in the config file:
    [General]
    Save enemy ship names to file         = YES             (5)
    
    [Files]
    List of enemy ship names              = enemy.lst       (24)
    
    [Misc]
    Race(s) to save names of              = 23584           (26)
    If the 'Save enemy ship names to file' in the [General] section is YES, the ships of the races defined in the [Misc] section will be scanned. New enemy ship names. i.e. names not already included in the list of enemy ship names, will be saved to the filename given by you in section [Files].
      Notes:
    1. The output file used to write the enemy ship names to, may be used as input file for the cover names (or your own set of names).
      This has the following effects:
      • You mimic your opponent by using his/her ship names. Confuse him/her to the MAX!
      • You probably will never run out of cover names.
        (Every time you will spot a new enemy ship its name will be added to the list.)
      You could also use this as a simple automated way of collecting shipnames for another (new) game. Some of your opponents come up with the greatest ship names! Use them.
    2. If you want to write the names of your opponents to separate files, you will have to use separate config files, changing the races in the [Misc] section.
  • The FLUSH command resets your set of public (cover) names.
    Usage:
    shipsoul flush <directory>
    The FLUSH command will reset the archive file that contains your set of public or cover names. Next time you call the COVER command _all_ cover names will be renamed. (Don't forget to set the config file to automatically rename new cover names.)
    The use of this command is to occasionally reset all cover names manually.

    Remember, if you want to change all cover names every turn, you'll only have to set the config file to rename all public names every turn.


    Default config file
    ShipSoul will accept a path to your game directory, or to be precise: to the config file inside your game directory If you don't supply a config file, ShipSoul will look for a default config file called 'ShipSoul.cfg' in the game directory.
    You can now use:

        inside your game dir
        --------------------
        shipsoul                        }  identical
        shipsoul  shipsoul.cfg          } 
        shipsoul  sscustom.cfg
    
        in any other dir, for example
        -----------------------------
        shipsoul  game1                 }
        shipsoul  game1\                }  identical
        shipsoul  game1\shipsoul.cfg    }
    When using ShipSoul for multiple races in the same game directory, it is of course still possible to supply ShipSoul with a custom named config file.
    For example:
    ShipSoul <command> race1.cfg
    ShipSoul <command> race9.cfg
    You can also use multiple config files when you're not satisfied by the options as provided by ShipSoul. For instance when you want to save the ship names of two of your opponents to two different files.


    More about prefixes

  • ShipSoul will use the prefix as the first characters of the shipname. The ship name in your user list will be added (appended) to the prefix.
  • ShipSoul accepts trailing spaces to the prefix but it doesn't recognize leading spaces.
  • Example: if you use 'USS ' as prefix, your shipnames will look like 'USS Saratoga'. If you use 'FX' your shipnames will look like 'FXSaratoga'.
  • You may use up to 20 characters as prefix. If you will indeed use the maximum number of 20 characters, all ships will end up having a name identical to the prefix. You may type a complete chapter of Romeo and Juliet of Shakespeare, but ShipSoul will only use the first 20 characters as prefix.
  • Nice example: if you would use the prefix 'Birdmen ' and the SHIP500.TXT sample name list file included in this archive as the source of your ship names, your ships will be called: 'Birdmen Ship 1', 'Birdmen Ship 2' etc....


    Using allied info
    When you are playing just one race per game and when you are not allied, there is no need to turn on the config settings that deal with allied info.
    However when you are playing multiple races in a game or when you receive the .RST files of your ally/allies, ShipSoul can make your live lots easier: ShipSoul can for example show your allies secret ship names in your starmap.
    All what you need for this is the ShipSoul archive files of other races, i.e. the shipXown.dat and shipXfoe.dat files (where X is the race number).

    How does it work?

  • When you turn on the following config setting
    Replace allied ship names in messages = YES
    and state which races are allied to you - this are the races that send you their shipXown.dat and shipXfoe.dat files - on the following line in the config file:
    Allied race(s) for scanning messages  = 1b
    ShipSoul will then also scan your incoming messages for their ship names. When an allied cover name is found, the allied secret name will be inserted.
  • When you turn on the following config setting
    Rename enemy ships (targets)          = yes
    and state which races are allied to you - this are the races that send you their shipXown.dat and shipXfoe.dat files - on the following line in the config file:
    Allied race(s) for scanning messages  = 1b
    ShipSoul will then give the allied ships that show up on your starmap their private, secret names.

     

    Note:
    When you're not scanning your messages for your own shipnames, you can't scan for allied ship names. So when
    Replace ship names in host messages   = NO
    is off,
    Replace allied ship names in messages = NO
    will be automatically be off too.

    Note 2:
    When you're using allied information, you can't keep your old ship names - these are the names of ships you currently don't own because they are destroyed, captured or whatever.
    Instead of your old names for those ships, ShipSoul uses the current name for those ships as used by your allies and opponents. So if you turn on

    Rename enemy ships (targets)          = yes
    or
    Replace allied ship names in messages = yes
    the following settings in the [Own ship names] and [Cover names] section will be automatically set to YES:
    Delete unused names from Archive      = YES
    Note 3:
    You can't change the names of enemy ships....yet. ShipSoul in it's current shape - being written in C++ and compiled by Borland as a DOS application - doesn't provide the user-interface I would like to see. There are plans for a small Windows-based application that can change the enemy ship names at runtime and save them as an input file for ShipSoul.
    Maybe I'll make this a registered feature.....but as for now: only plans, no promises.


    Scanning the host messages

  • ShipSoul will alter the ship names in the host messages when you RESTORE your own (secret) set of ship names. It will go through the host messages and scan the message types for ship names.
  • When an host message has a ship ID, this ID is used by ShipSoul to find the correct name. Your own (secret) name is inserted in the host message.
  • However most host messages don't show a ship ID. In this case ShipSoul can only compare the names in its archive files to the ones in the messages - there is no ID check. When the names match, the secret name will be inserted in the message.

    [This means that when you have two or a series of ships in your game data that have the same cover (public) names, the host messages without ship IDs that list the actions of those ships will only show the secret name of the ship with the lowest ID of that series.]

     

  • In case of trouble:
    (When there is something wrong with the messages after ShipSoul has altered the ship names.)
    The messages are stored in the mdataX.dat file, where X is your race number (1,2,...11). ShipSoul creates a backup file called mdataX.bck. Just replace the mdataN.dat file by the backup mdataX.bck file to restore the original host messages. That's all - just fire up Planets/Winplan to read the original messages.


    Message filters
    ShipSoul has 17 build-in message filters that will recognize most (if not all) of the host/phost messages. However there are lots of host-addons that also write messages. You will have to write a message filter for these messages yourself, that is: if you want ShipSoul to replace the public ship name in the message for the secret ship name.
    The following rules apply:

     

  • If ShipSoul finds a file called 'ShipSoul.fil' it supposes it contains your own collection of message filters. If there is no such file, the built-in message filters will be used.
  • The file format of the message filter file is very important. A sample filter file is included in this archive. The message filter file is a plain text file which can be edited by every ordinary text editor.
  • The format should be:
    • First line: number of message filters in the file. Less filter than this number will do worse things to ShipSoul. More filters won't get read nor used.
    • All other lines:
      • First character is the message type. This is always the third character of the message.
      • Followed by <space> or <tab>.
      • Third character is the line number on which the ship name can be found.
      • Followed by <space> or <tab>.
      • Fifth character is the position in that line on which the ship name can be found.
      • Followed by <space> or <tab>.
      • Seventh character says if the ID in the message header can be used as ship ID. Write 'y' or 'Y' for if the ID truly is a ship ID, or write 'n' or 'N' if you're not certain/ or when the ID in the message header is not the ship ID but for example a planet ID or minefield ID.
      • Remaining characters will not be used. Use this space for info, notes etc.
  • There is a maximum of 50 message filters.
  • The message filters in the inclosed sample filter file are the same as the ones that are hardcoded in ShipSoul. If you're not adding your own filters, don't use the custom filter file. The build-in filters of ShipSoul run a bit faster.

    ShipSoul messages
    When ShipSoul scans host messages:

    Replace ship names in host messages   = YES
    is on, ShipSoul will automatically send warning messages. ShipSoul can send two kinds of messages:
  • It will send a message that you will run out of public (cover) names when you have less than 25 names left in your list of cover names (if you are using one).
  • It will send a message that you will run out of own ship names when you have less than 25 names left in your list of own names (if you are using one).
  • It will send a message when your game is near the shareware limitation of ShipSoul. The shareware version of ShipSoul will only work for the first 25 turns of a game, and ShipSoul will therefore send you a series of warning messages starting at turn 20.

    This can't be turned off unless by turning off the message scanning.

    Don't forget to put the BMPs into your Winplan BMP directory.

     

    Note:
    The shareware versions of ShipSoul will work without any shareware limit until the end of 1997, no matter the warning messages you might receive. For example in one of my test games ShipSoul says:
       +----------------------------------- +
       | (-a0821) <<< ShipSoul Warning >>>  |
       |                                    |
       | This is a limited version of       |
       | ShipSoul. You are nearing the      |
       | shareware limit of 25 turns.       |
       | This is turn 83.                   |
       |                                    |
       +----------------------------------- +
    When you receive this message it doesn't change anything - the shareware version of ShipSoul is still working then - but when you don't get this message any longer you've got trouble: ShipSoul has turned itself off.



    Bits and Pieces

     


     

  • ShipSoul will never delete the last name in your list of ship names. This means that you will never run out of names, but that this last name will be used over and over again until you add more names in your ship names file. If the 'Replace ship names in host messages' is YES, ShipSoul will send you a warning message when you are running out of names.
  • There is no objection if you want to use the same ship name list for both your secret ship names and the cover names, or for multiple players, or for multiple games etc. The lists will just run out of names much faster.
  • If you want to renew all the public names once in a while, use the FLUSH command. If you want to do that every turn, use the config setting.
  • If ShipSoul detects an error and terminates itself, it will beep twice.



    F E E D B A C K

     


    ERRORS and BUGS

  • When ShipSoul detects an error that will cause the program to terminate, it will produce a short warning signal. The cause of the error will be displayed on the DOS prompt, and if possible ShipSoul will also tell you how to fix the problem.
  • Every file in your game data that is going to be modified by ShipSoul will be made a backup of first. These files will have a different extension: instead of .DAT they will end in .BCK. When you want to restore your game data as it was before ShipSoul modified it, all you have to do is renaming the backup files *.BCK to *.DAT.

    Errors in the config file

  • If you've changed the format of the config file or if you typed something that ShipSoul doesn't understand, ShipSoul will tell you the line number of the config file in which you can find the error.
  • The format of the config file is very strict. You can't swap or change lines. Your settings should start at character 41 of every line. If you change this, ShipSoul will terminate.
  • If you've completely messed up your config file whilst editing it, use the build-in CONFIG command to write a new default config file. Usage:
    ShipSoul CONFIG
    I/O Errors
  • If an error occurred while ShipSoul was writing to your game data you might get serious trouble like the UNRECOVERABLE DATA ERRORS detected by Planets or the RED ERRORS detected by Host. When such an error occurs, ShipSoul will let you know. All you have to do to restore your game data is renaming the backup files *.BCK to *.DAT.

    Memory Errors

  • When the host message scanning setting is ON, ShipSoul might run into memory trouble if your computer has not enough RAM. It will display a warning message: "Not enough memory to read messages." and it will continue without having scanned the host messages. [ShipSoul was running fine on a testgame with over 250 in-game messages and a ship name file of over 9000 names.]

    Reporting Bugs

  • When you think you've found a bug, please report it to me. My current e-mail address is: [email protected].
  • Please note everything I might need to solve the bug: what kind of bug, when does it occur, does it occur frequently, what kind of system (processor, operating system) you have, what kind of programs you're using (Winplan, DosPlan, VPA, host addons, other utilities).
  • If you think it's wise, send me the entire game directory zipped.

     


    HINTS and TIPS
    for powerusers

     


    Pretending to be a newbie
    Using ShipSoul you can easily pretend to be a sloppy or newbie player - the kind of player who won't change the names of his ships and who keeps using the ship names like 'SMALL DEEP SPACE FRE' and 'ILL WIND CLASS BATTL' given by Host/Phost.
    For this to work you will have to INSTALL the ship names in your game data as cover names right after unpacking your result file. (That is: use the INSTALL command before you RESTORE your own set of ship names.) This action will save those 'original' ship names and the names of captured ships to your set of cover names.
    Fool your opponent by pretending to be a sloppy or newbie player!


    Output to your monitor
    ShipSoul writes a summary of what is it doing to your monitor. If you think that is annoying, you can simple redirect this to a log file by using the standard DOS way:
    Use for example:

    shipsoul restore >shipsoul.log
    shipsoul cover >shipsoul.log
    to write the output to a text file called 'shipsoul.log'.


    Undocumented feature...
    A contradictio in terminis... :-)

  • When you set ShipSoul to rename new ships and supply an empty list of names, ShipSoul has to come up with a name of itself, and so it does: the ship name 'ShipSoul Rules!' is especially for this purpose hardcoded in ShipSoul. On this occasion all your new ships will get the name 'ShipSoul Rules!' except when you've set a prefix like for example 'FX ' - the ship will then get the name 'FX ShipSoul Rules!'.

    Of course you can override this - I've got it all covered! To insert your own universal ship name instead of 'ShipSoul Rules!', simply use a PREFIX of 20 characters. (You didn't have any ship names anyway.)


    Lists of ship names
    Although this release includes a couple of files with ship names, my WWW site lists about 25 other lists of shipnames.
    Use the following URL to go directly to the lists of names on my site:
    http://www.chem.vu.nl/Studenten/kreike/vgapname.html
    or
    ftp://ftp.chem.vu.nl/pub/Kreike/vgap/name/


    RoutePlan
    When ShipSoul is used in combination with RoutePlan, it will prove to be a most deadly combination of VGAP player utilities!
    RoutePlan is a DOS utility for VGA-Planets, which manages trivial fleet infrastructure tasks.
    Your job is to set up a route, by defining a set of waypoints, and then tell what a ship should do at that waypoint. You can let a ship load, unload cargo, set friendly code for the ship, set new waypoint. set mission, and change the shipname. These things together is a powerful tool for you to administrate your infrastructure.
    After you have setup your routes, just execute RoutePlan before you run Planets, and let it do all the hard work of setting waypoints, load/unload cargo, building minefields for those of your ships you have assigned a route to.
    As all this is done by changing the name of a ship, ShipSoul will disguise the mission of that ship!

    Visit the RoutePlan homepage at http://home2.inet.tele.dk/larsdam/
    or download: routepln.zip (50 kB) right now.


    Recovering your lost data

    [Read carefully and use this with caution!!!]
    It's a dirty way to use ShipSoul like this but I think it's worth mentioning it: it is possible to use ShipSoul to recover your 'UNRECOVERABLE DATA'. When planets says you've got an 'unrecoverable data error' it means that on opening your game files Planets discovered that your checksums weren't correct. Planets thinks your game data has been modified, and because it can't see what has changed, it simple refuses to use this modified game data. That's just a safety: if Planets would continue you could end up with a RED ERROR in the host run....It sure is wiser to unpack you .RST again and do it all over. :-(

    ShipSoul re-calculates the checksums of your ships every time you after you used the RESTORE or COVER command. (I.e. ShipSoul doesn't check the checksums before reading your data, but it assumes they are OK.) So if you got an unrecoverable data error because your system crashed while planets was writing your game data, it might be worthwhile to take the chance to run ShipSoul on your game data. If the error is in the checksum of the ships, it might save you a lot of time.
    It worked for me while I was testing ShipSoul. The DOS emulator on my Mac crashed while Planets was writing the game data - it's not quite a stable combination :-( Although I did build ships that turn and moved ships around, Host didn't give a red error.

    f you want to test the checksum capabilities of ShipSoul, use Planets v3.0 and rename the planets help file (PLNHELP.DAT). Every time you call the build-in help function, Planets.exe will crash immediately without saving its data causing UNRECOVERABLE DATA ERRORS. Enjoy!

    Running ShipSoul in a new game

    When you try to run ShipSoul in a new game just after you've unpacked your first .RST file, you'll see that ShipSoul won't run. You'll have to run Planets/Winplan first.

    The reason you have to fire up and quit Planets/WinPlan before you run ShipSoul for the first time, or in general before you can edit your game data is the following:
    when you unpack your .RST file several pairs of identical files are created, the *.dat and *.dis files. Checksums of those files are stored in the control.dat and genX.dat files. So it's easy to check whether there are changes made to the data files or not: the checksums of the *.dis and *.dat files should match.
    When Planets/WinPlan starts, it compares the *.dis and *.dat files and recalculate the checksums, and if they're identical it will create a new file called FIZZ.BIN in which it stores new, modified checksums. Once the FIZZ.BIN file is there, you can begin editing the game data.
    So other than by creating a valid FIZZ.BIN yourself (good luck!), the most convenient way is to run Planets/WinPlan before using a game data editor.



    About this version

     


    ShareWare
  • This is an evaluation version of ShipSoul. It will work till the end of 1997 and after that only for the first 25 turns of any game. You may use this evaluation version for free.
  • If you would like to register ShipSoul, you can do the registration on-line on the Internet at http://www.shareit.com/programs/100615.htm. Alternatively, you can go to http://www.shareit.com and enter the program number there: 100615.
    If you do not have access to the Internet, you can register via phone, fax or postal mail. Please print out the inclosed registration form (register.txt) and fax or mail it to:
    Reimold&Schumann Internet Services, ShareIt!,Jahnstrasse 24,50676 Koeln,Germany
    Phone: +49-221-2407279, Fax: +49-221-2407278, E-Mail: [email protected].
  • Upon registering you will receive an unlimited version of ShipSoul by uuencoded e-mail. This unrestricted version doesn't have the build-in shareware limit of 25 turns and will work on game data of Planets v3.0 for DOS and Winplan v3.5 for Windows.
  • This free evaluation package may be multiplied and distributed on a non-commercial basis by any means and by any type of medium as long as this package and its contents are not modified. The free version of ShipSoul may not be distributed on a commercial basis without the approval of its author.
  • I do not take any responsibility for damage to any kind of medium, software and hardware caused by use or misuse of this package and all of its contents. Use it wisely. However as I use ShipSoul myself on my own VGAP data files you could consider this package as safe to use.
  • This shareware package was virus free the moment I uploaded it to the NET. If you found an infected version, please get yourself a new copy from my homepage.


    Contents of this release
    This archive should include:

  • file_id.diz
  • install.txt
  • namelist.zip
  • register.txt
  • shipsoul.exe
  • shipsoul.cfg
  • shipsoul.fil
  • ssdochtm.zip
  • ssdoctxt.txt
  • vpaux821.bmp
  • vpaux822.bmp
  • vpaux823.bmp
  • file description
    installation notes
    sample lists with ship names
    registration info
    executable version 1.0
    config file format v1.0
    sample message filter file
    docs HTML formatted
    docs plain text format
    shareware limit warning pict
    running low on own names message pict
    running low on cover names warning pict


    More information
  • The ShipSoul source code was written by me in C++ on my fabulous, famous and fantastic Power Macintosh 6100/60. It was compiled by a shamelessly ancient and almost extinct type of compiler called Borland C++ v3.0.
  • If you've got any comments or questions don't hesitate to drop me a line. My current e-mail address is [email protected] I promise I won't bite you (more than twice.)

  • My Mac!
  • Updates of ShipSoul and all other Timo's Tools can be found on my homepage. The current address of my homepage is: http://www.chem.vu.nl/Studenten/kreike/vgap.html


    Contacting the author
    By e-mail: [email protected].

    By snail-mail:

    Timo Kreike
    Benderslaan 139
    1185 EH Amstelveen
    The Netherlands
    Visit the Elite Site at:
    http://www.chem.vu.nl/Studenten/kreike/vgap.html.

    INDEX

     


    Description
    Features
    The BASIC PRINCIPLE (the BACKUP, RESTORE, INSTALL, COVER commands)
    How to use ShipSoul?

    INSTALLATION

    Step 1. Install the executables
    Step 2. Copy the config file
    Step 3. Install the Winplan BMPs
    Step 4. Edit the configuration file
    Step 5. Create the ShipSoul archive files
    Step 6. Insert ShipSoul in batch files
    Step 7. Install the ship name files
    MORE INFO
    More Commands (the CONFIG, INVERT, SCAN and FLUSH commands)
    Default config file
    More about prefixes
    Using allied info
    Scanning the host messages
    Message filters
    ShipSoul messages
    FEEDBACK ERRORS and BUGS
    Errors in the config file
    I/O Errors
    Memory Errors
    Reporting Bugs
    HINTS and TIPS Pretending to be a newbie
    Output to your monitor
    Undocumented feature...
    Lists of ship names
    RoutePlan
    Recovering your lost data
    About this version

     

    ShareWare
    Contents of this release
    More information
    Contacting the author
    INDEX

     


    Amsterdam, September 1997

    Timo Kreike
    [email protected]

     


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