Planets Version 4 uses these special files:

*.RST Planets Result file: This is the file that is produced by the Host program. This file is transferred from the host person to the player. The file can be transferred by Email, FTP, or Web site. The planets 4 RST file is compressed internally using the PKZIP algorithm, so there is no need to PKZIP a planets 4 RST file. You can rename the *.RST as long as you do not change the RST file extension. Planets 4 can read any RST and figure out which race and game the file came from and automatically decompress and unpack the file.

*.TRN VGA Planets Turn File: This is the file that is produced by planets4.exe. The TRN can be renamed to anything as long as the TRN extension is maintained. The TRN is the file that contains all the new player commands for host to read. The host is expecting one TRN file from each player. If some players neglect to send in their TRN file host will still be able to run without the missing TRN. If you miss a turn you can not make it up, you must skip the missed turn and use the latest RST file to produce a new TRN. An old TRN from a past RST is referred to as a stale TRN. Host can not read a stale TRN, they are rejected and host logs an error in the host log file.

*.LOG: When host runs it records events in the host log file. The log file can then be reviewed as an aid in finding out what went wrong in the event of an error, what the errors are and if the players TRN files are okay.

*.FIG: A text file that modifies the games rules and settings. It is produced by the hconfig.exe program.

*.WAR: A war file is produced on the players machine and stored in the war sub directory when a RST file is unpacked. All the data this player can read for this turn is stored in that file. When unpacking a RST file, the planets4.exe program will delete any older WAR files that have matching game ID`s and are from a past turn.

*.YIG: The game universe. The YIG file is made by MASTER. Host reads the YIG file during its host run. If you want to save a backup of your game universe all that you have to save is the YIG file. The file is a compressed file to save as much space as possible.

*.YG1: A backup of the last turns YIG file.

*.TN1: A backup of all the TRN files turned in last turn (a PKZIP file).

To restore from the backup files rename *.TN1 to *.ZIP and unzip all the old TRN files. Then rename *.YG1 to *.YIG. With all the safety measures built into host it is very rare for anyone to have to restore a game from the back up files.

*.YG2: A backup of the YIG file from two turns ago.

*.TN2: A backup of all the TRN files turned in two turns ago (a PKZIP file).

*.YOG: You will only see one of these if you are watching the directory during the host run or if host crashes. To insure maximum safety during a host run the host program makes a YOG file which is a copy of the YIG file and does all its actions on the YOG file. If the host is successful and there were no crashes during the host run the old YIG file is deleted and the YOG file becomes the new YIG file.

*.MAP: A compiled map file. Used only by MASTER to make a new universe.

*.VPS: VGA Planets Script file. Used only by MASTER to make a new universe.

*.QSP: Planets 4 Quick Ship Plans file. See Quick Ship Build Screen

*.RCE A Race pack. Holds one race. Contains data on what a race can do. Has the race leader picture, race symbol, fighter pictures and ground combat units pictures. All races have a race pack number, the Federation has a race pack ID number of 101. The Federation will always have the race ID number of 101. The Lizards are 102. Numbers above 100 were used to avoid confusing the race pack ID number with the player races number (1 to 30). Every race pack has a version number so that the race can be updated at a later time. When master makes a new universe and it finds more than one race pack with the same race ID ( two Federation Race Packs, for example ) the MASTER will use the race pack with the highest version number. Once master locks a certain race pack version number into a game, it can not be changed. The players will be required to have that race pack on their machine in their races directory. It does not matter what the race pack is named as long as the RCE extension is maintained. You could end up playing in 3 games that each use a different version of the Federation race. You would end up having race packs named something like: r101.rce, r101a.rce, feds.rce and feds2a.rce. All 4 are race pack ID 101, but have different version numbers. When planets4.exe opens the game data it will find and use the required race pack, if for some reason you are missing a required race pack it will let you know and you can go and download it and add it to your races directory.

*.SPK: VGA Planets Ship Pack. All the ship statistics and ship pictures are stored in this file. These files also have a version number and ship pack ID number. When a game is mastered the required ship packs ID numbers and version numbers are locked into the game`s YIG file and can not be changed. The players are required to have the same ship pack on their computer in their own ships directory. The SPK files can be renamed to any name you wish as long as the SPK extension is maintained. You might end up with many ship packs with the same pack ID, but with several different version numbers. As long as their file names are different you will not have any problems. You can delete old ship packs that you are no longer using if you wish. RCE files are linked to SPK files. A RCE files will require one or more SPK files to be present. For example, the Federation RCE file requires that you have Ship Pack ( SPK ) IDs 101 and 102. Many different races are going to use Ship Pack ID 102, because it contains all the commonly used ships, such as freighters. When master puts together the YIG file it first checks the RCE files being used for what SPK file IDs are required. MASTER then links the YIG file to the highest version number of that SPK ID that is found in the ships directory. All RCE files will work with the highest version SPK files that are found.

STANDARD.DAT: Used by Master only. The file that contains all the standard data about all objects in the VGA Planets universe. When you run master the data in this file is embedded into the YIG (universe) file and can not be changed for the life of the YIG file. All the data in the STANDARD.DAT file is passed on to the players in their RST files.

The Program Files:

MASTER.EXE A 32 bit Visual Basic 5 Program, used to make new game universes (YIG files)

HCONFIG.EXE : A 32 bit Visual Basic 5 Program, used to configure the YIG universe at any time. It produces the *.FIG file.

HOST.EXE: A 32 bit Visual Basic 5 Program. A simple front end program that gathers up the incoming TRN files and Emails the RST files after a host run. Its main function is to control the V4HOST.EXE program.

V4HOST.EXE: A 32 bit Windows Program that runs in the background. This program has no interface. It uses the V4HOSTX.DLL and V4HOSTY.DLL support DLL files. This program reads in all the incoming TRN files plus the YIG file. The v4host then outputs all the players new RST files. It will outputs new RST files for players that did not turn in a TRN file as well as for the ones that did.. Once host runs and makes a new set of RST files, only these new RSTs can be used by the players to make the next set of TRN files for the host. All TRN files made using older RST files will be rejected. This program does not use any of the Visual Basic run time libraries (It was not written in Visual Basic). It uses the DLL Compp32.dll, the files in the ships directory and the files in the races directory. Host also uses the files V4resx.dat and V4ResY.dat in the vpsys directory. Host does not use the massive ( 7.6 meg ) Plan4.pln file. The v4host program can be started from a command line.

V4HOST.EXE Command Line Example:

V4host c:\path\name.yig

The name.yig file will be processed. TRN files found in the directory c:\path\ will be used and the RST files will be outputted to the c:\path\ directory.

PLANETS4.EXE: A 32 bit Visual Basic Program. The players client program. It unpacks RST files.

It takes player command input. When it is all finished it produces a TRN file containing all the new command that is sent back to the host to be processed with all the other players TRN files at the same time by the HOST.EXE program.

VCR.EXE: The Visual Combat Recorder. The program will play back any VCR file. It will load combat files when ordered to by the PLANETS4.EXE program.

Also See: How The Game System Works

Jan 12th, 2004