Guidelines and Hints for Hosts

(Addons discussion is still in progress.)

If you have some additional comments, questions, ideas, criticism please be free to write to

For our spanish visitors, there's a short version of this site and some additional infos at Admiral Thrawn Home Page in spanish language.

Table of Contents


General rules for hosts

  1. You need TIME for responsible hosting. The easiest way to save some time is to (semi-) automate your hostruns.
    (I have made some bad experiences in IN games with well-known hosts, they "forgot" to host my turn file. Very unprofessional!). If you don't have enough time to do the host job for a longer period, DON'T do it. It's a hard job!
  2. Don't play in your own game, because you have always more information than your players.
    But if you unconditional like to play in your own game
    - use an automated host
    - use an another e-mail adresse to send your turns to your autohost (as every player do)
    - offer all settings and do a randomized mastering
    furthermore for manual hosting
    - never play a race with cloaking abilities, especially the Privateer/ Orion.
    - offer the (p)host.log to everybody each turn
    - don't use a different scoring method, like ptscore
  3. Think about a good aim and particularly about the settings of your game.
    Beginners/ intermediate/ expert game, open end or not, only shareware versions or not .... (read my whole Guidelines)
  4. If you want to use an alternative combat mode or shiplist, please KNOW about what you are doing OR DON'T do it. There are a lot of incredible stupid games offered in the IN. E.g. combining PLIST, TKF and THost is  nonsense!!!
  5. Use only addons, which are well known by yourself in order to choose good settings and prevent hosting problems.
  6. Do not change your settings during a running game, because good players orientate their game strategy strongly on the start settings. A later change is problematic. If you like to change a setting, vote for it. There are often a lot of reasons, why players don't like any changes.
  7. If you update the host version, addons ... during a game, inform all players about that in the beginning of the game.
  8. Check the compatibility of your and the players e-mail attachments before you set a hosting time limit. Test the compatibility by sending the rst-file to the player and by checking the replied trn-file. For PHost do a Read Only Check!
  9. Motivate your players. Send them all infos about all settings and the aim of the game. Also personal contact between host and players is favorable for a good game.
  10. Be fair and don't favor single races or players. You are the referee of a game. That is very important for the handling with quitters and races without any chances.
  11. Be immune for crying and lamenting players. If you follow the upper rules, there are no reasons for players to grumble about your map, your settings a.s.o.. All settings and rules are stated at the beginning of the game.
  12. (Check the turns a couple of hours before to prevent stale files.)
  13. (Send a reminder to players who didn't sent their turns in time, means several hours before).
  14. Do a backup of your game after each turn. Loosing a game e.g. by a dead harddisc would be a disaster.


What do I need for a new game

checklist, files needed for







  • host.exe
  • master.exe
  • hconfig.exe
  • phost.exe
  • plang.hst
  • plangeng.hst
  • pmaster.exe


game directory






  • xyplan.dat
  • truehull.dat
  • hullspec.dat
  • beamspec.dat
  • torpspec.dat
  • engspec.dat
  • race.nm
  • planet.nm


  • pmaster.cfg
  • xyplan.dat
  • pconfig.src
  • truehull.dat
  • hullspec.dat
  • beamspec.dat
  • torpspec.dat
  • engspec.dat
  • race.nm
  • planet.nm
  • wormhole.txt
  • auxhost1.ini
  • auxhost2.ini

For popular VGA-Planets FAQ visit the site of Roger Burton West.


Choice of the xyplan.dat

The good choice of a xyplan is an important feature for a good game. Today it is very easy to style a new alternative map. There are several different map generators available for this purpose (Links). These alternative maps are often based on geometric figures. However, they are only favorable for specific games with a special aim, e.g. Ashes of the Empire or team games.
Based on a lot of experiences several rules could be used to generate a good new map:

If you take a smaller (B, C) universes, players have less to watch on their fuel and it is easy to reach the neighbors homeworld, vice versa. (Smaller universes speed up the total game, ensure often early fights and strength cloaking races.) If you use very large universes, Winplan will have some problems. Players can't reach these outer planets (A). (for VPA? - I don't know). Maximum size of an universe is a diameter of 3000 LY.
If you like to use less than 500 planets, calculate your new diameter by the formula sqr(X/500*Y^2); (X=number of planets, Y= chosen diameter for 500 planets, e.g. 2000 LY)


link to nebula.jpg (34312 Bytes) link to apoka.jpg (29370 Bytes) link to germany.jpg (33940 Bytes)
A) Nebula B) Apoka C) Germany


link to doom.jpg (42119 Bytes) link to imp.jpg (40380 Bytes)
D) Doom E) Bubbles


(p)master setting

The TimHost Master setting is very defined. Only few parameter can be chosen. The few settings of interest are involved at the pmaster link.

Link to => pmaster


pconfig/ hconfig settings

Generally, I would like to discuss and comment only important default settings. Some of them are very critical, if you use the standard setting. Furthermore, in order a newbie host have look on this site I comment also settings, which are usually fix and unfavorable to change. For an experienced host most of these settings are logical.

My suggested standard setting is aimed on the standard shiplist. E.g. for PLIST you will find additional comments.


Link to  => pconfig.src

Link to  => hconfig.exe  (not available yet)




still under construction, but just some comments.

PHost3 and (older?) versions of the campaign editor don't work properly together.


Aim of a game

The goal of a game is an important aspect every host should think about. A lot of games are offered without any; they are called "open end" or "highlander". This might be o.k., but hence follows a couple of consequences on this. I personally found out, you do well to set a distinct aim in a game.

# Use a scoring method, where players can see the actual situation.

Open end:

All players must be motivated to play a long period (sometimes 200 turns). It is very, very difficult to find this kind of players. There are a couple of reasons, why those games end often before one race wins.

Defined aim:

A defined aim is motivating for players, because they can reach the goal on a distinct time. Furthermore, a host can calculate his own active time much better.
There are a lot of thinkable goals, but some of them are problematic. Here is a small list of possible aims and their rating. Be aware about the importance to set an aim, which is neither to easy nor to hard to reach.


# A fixed number of ships (e.g. 100) is the goal. In my opinion this is not advisable, because some races (Lizard) can build faster ships than others. BTW to build 100 ships in a standard IN is no problem ;). It is very difficult to find a good limit. Maybe 150 is a good point of end.


# A distinct number of planets (e.g. 100) is the aim. Better than ships, but there are still races collect planets (Liz, Priv, Borg) faster than others. Reaching 100 planets is very easy. If the goal is set on 125 planets for the next 5 turns, I believe, that is a good aim for a game.
Heiko programmed a very smart addon for it, called checkvic.


I found several varities in the IN.

Most tonnage sunk

Problematic. Playing a standard game some races are preferred having lighter ships, but they are as strong as heavier ones. E.g. Rush vs. DeathStar or the Patriot is a very light but an incredible strong ship. This problem gains by the "wrong" damage calculation of the THost or PHost standard combat setting. In my opinion, some races (Liz, FED, Reb, CoM) have big advantages in this scoring system. Furthermore, Privateer and Crystal have a big disadvantage by their bad fighting abilities. Thus it is unfair. This system also depends on the fixed turn number.
For VESAC(C) and PLIST this method can be used, but it is still unfavorable.


Highest score, planets, ships a.s.o. after a defined number of turns. These aims seem to be o.k. for me, but it is very hard to find a fair endpoint for the particular scoring unit.
Moreover, if you like to use the highest score after a defined turn number, you have to look for a good scoring systems based on different weighting parameters. The org. THost score isn't smart. (I like searching for the most common scoring systems later, in order to add some comments on these) For the use of TimScore, 80 turns and more, might be a good limit. For others (ptscore) a lower limit can but shouldn't be used.

Invasion Points Scenario

Puh, I didn't played in such a game until now. But it seems to me, that several races are preferred by this system. Privateer and Crystal are the loosers in this system, because there races haven't any fighting abilities. If a high limit of points is chosen, these races might get their chance later, but then the game will run a while. 

Distinct area or planet

A good idea of a circled universe could be, the hold of a distinct central planet or area (a couple of planets) for 10 consecutive turns.


Very good! However, the voting must be unanimous, means all players must vote the same player. (I saw one game one guy was winning and nearly all other players votes somebody else.)


What can I do with quitters, races without any chance ...

This issue is interesting and important. I mentioned this problem especially in the IN. There are several reasons why players are quitting games.

However, a host has only few possiblities to avoid this BAD behaviour. Here I offer some suggestions:

Which host behaviour is common then?

But such as easy as this problem can't be solved or the game isn't good and satisfying for players with high demands. It is necessary to take a particular spot on this problem for finding a good and fair solution. The important fact is, don't keep a race in your game without any control. Players could gain unfavorable advantages by it (e.g. towing a Hsssing ships from a beaten Gorn to their own planets or supplying a rebel fightership with fighter minerals) being very unusual for games. E.g. if you are playing a computer game, let say Battle Isle or Warcraft against the computer or human opponent, you would let take him his turn, too, or this game makes no fun and won't give you any real satisfaction. That's why I demand, never to keep a race without any control for a long period.
Here are some suggestions what you can do with vacant races.

Have a look on the races situation

If the race is without any chances, look for the reasons.
(It is very difficult to define, is a race without any chance or not. Maybe less than 5-10 planets and 2-5 ships should be a good limit in the most cases.)  

If the race has chances



Tim's Site Tim Host
PHost portable Host, very flexible in parameters, great alternative to Tim-Host, at the you will find a some of good util programs, e.g. Killrace
EchoView Homepage EchoView is a player utility, it is a starchart and database program with lots of inbuilt utilities
Roger Burton Wests Programming Site (2K), (3K), (53K)
Neil Symons VGAP Site - broken A big download site for VGAP, i.a. Takeover, ExploreMap
FAQ FAQs of VGA-Planets, collected by Roger Burton West, Gary Grothman, Gordy Pine and Mark Wilmot.

Thanks to Oliver Korn for his critical discussion. You will find additional hints, especially for players on his Help Document.

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Last Modified: 10-Jul-2005