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              |    VGA Planets   C u t S c o r e    1 . 0    |
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CutScore         by Michael Herrmann
- is a tool for VGA Planets ((c) Tim Wisseman).
- cuts down the score sent from host to players in their RST files.

Quick start
I think a manual as short as this can be read completely. But I am realistic
enough to know that some uses disagree with me :-) . If you are one of them,
please be a good guy amd read at least the rest of this short section. After
that call 'CutScore ?', read the usage info lines and insert a line for
CutScore into your host batch.

If you already know (or don't want to know) what CutScore is, skip section 1.
If you already know (or don't want to know) how to operate CutScore, skip
   section 2.
If you already know (or don't want to know) how to interpret the CutScore
   scoreboard, skip section 3.
If you decided to skip sections 1 to 3, you may want to skip the rest as
   well. So just have a look at the table of contents, and don't forget:
By using this program you confirm that you agree with the no-warranty
section of this manual.

1. Why CutScore
2. How CutScore works and how to make CutScore work
3. The CutScore scoreboard
4. No warranties
5. History
6. Known problems
7. Please hand on
8. Contact

1. Why CutScore?
In your first Planets games you were probably satisfied with the default
score. Maybe you still are. But some players feel that a score should not
rely so much on bases and include anything a player builds. VGAScore and
PTScore, for instance, are doing a good job here. Yet other players feel
that Planets is more fun if you don't know so well who you are fighting
against. They like an anonymous scores or switch it off completely.
CutScore offers such an anonymous scoreboard.

With CutScore, you can still see how good you are in relation to others,
but you will not see who of your competitors is how good. If you are Fed,
you will get the score of the Robots, but it may be written down as the
score of the Rebels or of the Empire etc. If your Planets frontend supports
a score graph, you may be worried, but CutScore doesn't mix randomly. Your
score graph will remain readable.

In the times of priority build points and other queue control programs,
the number of bases may not be so important any more. But the number of
planets is, because the number of planets determines your total income
and thus controls how fast you can develop. CutScore shows the number of
planets only. Your ships are not counted in CutScore. Ships are only a
means to get what you really want - planets. After all, this is the name
of the game. ;-)

Zeroing a player's score may cause problems. In VPA, for instance, you can't
write messages to players with zero score. CutScore takes care that players
don't get zero score as long as they still have anything to play with.

2. How CutScore works and how to make CutScore work
CutScore takes care that players don't get the score that the host program
wants to send them. This score is sent in the RSTs. Thus CutScore reads the
score information from the RSTs, cuts off base and ship information (except
for the player's own race), shakes and mixes the planets information (for
details see below) and writes the result back into the RSTs.

In order to work, CutScore needs nothing but the RSTs. But it does need the
score information in the RSTs. If your host program allows you to switch off
the score, don't do it if you want to run CutScore.

Since CutScore needs the RSTs, it must be run after Host or PHost - and of
course before sending the RSTs ;-) . Before changing them, CutScore copies
the original RSTs with the complete score information to PlayerN.bak.

Usage: CutScore <GameDir>

If less or more than one command line parameter are given or if the one
command line parameter contains a '?', a short info message is displayed
and CutScore doesn't touch any RST.

3. The CutScore scoreboard
The complete explanation of the scoreboard may sound a bit complicated.
But for those who don't want to know about the details and the reasons,
the explanation can be reduced to three simple rules:
1. The number of planets is given for all races, but the races are mixed
   (except your own race).
2. Four your own race and for races with three or less planets, the total
   number of ships (capital ships and freighters) is entered as freighters
   in their scores.
3. Any other items written down in the scoreboard don't carry information.
For those who are interested in the details and the reasons, I wrote the
rest of this section.

The CutScore scoreboard is ordered according to player strength. Player
strength is determined by the number of planets only. CutScore shows the
number of planets of all races. But only for your own race you can be sure
that the number of planets written down for a race is actually the number
of planets that belongs to that race. The other races are mixed, but not
randomly. Let me make clear with an example how they are mixed.

Let's assume you're Privateer, you're good and the third-strongest player
in the game. The next weaker race, whoever it is, is written down as Cyborg,
the next one as Crystal etc. downwards. The second-strongest player, one
position better than you, is written down as Fascist and the best player
as Bird. The Lizard score shows the weakest player etc. upwards.

What happens if you have a Planets frontend that sorts races in order of
strength, assigns colors to them and draws a graph over several turns?
First of all, you always get the same color, the one designed for your
race by your frontend. Second, the next stronger player in turn X will
most likely also be the next stronger player in turn X+1, and he/she will
get the same color as before. In this way, the score graph will remain more
or less intact from turn to turn. When two players (excluding yourself)
change score position, you will not be able to tell. When you are changing
score position with someone else, the top player of the graph will come down
to the bottom or vice versa. This may look a bit confusing during the first
few turns of the game when changes of score position are still frequent, but
later in the game you will get a nice score graph.

So far for the order of races. What information does CutScore write down
for each race? Well, CutScore relies mainly on the number of planets, and
it takes care that the ordering that may be done by a frontend will be done
in terms of the number of planets. This is why the number of starbases must
be the same for all players. CutScore sets it to 1. This means that no score
line will ever go to zero completely, and hopefully it also means that
messages can be written to all players all the time in VPA. (Since your own
number of starbases is also shown as 1, you have to keep track of your
starbases on your own. CutScore could write down the number of your
starbases as starbase entry for all races in the score. But then, if you
had 30 bases and 30 bases were written down for every one into the score,
it would be very hard to detect everyone's position in a typical score
graph that counts bases with 120 points and planets with only 10 points.
I prefer to count on your ability to take track of your starbases.)

So far for the bases. The number of planets in the score is correct for all
players (not counting here that the races are mixed).

The number of your own ships (capital ships and freighters) is shown in
your own score. But they are all written down as freighters in order not
to interfere with the score graph more than necessary. Ships of your
opponents are not shown. The number of freighters of your opponents is
set to zero, and their number of capital ships is *your* total number of
ships divided by 10 (and truncated). This makes sure that the ships entered
in your own score line as your freighters don't confuse the score strength.

There is one exception to the ships. If a player has 3 or less planets,
his/her ships are written down in the same way as in your own score. I find
this necessary in order to indicate if a player is really out or not yet -
or how much more effort you will need until he or she is out :-) .

This set of rules may sound complicated, but it's not that bad. For the
beginning just remember the simple rules from the start of this section.
If you want to know later and forgot, just have another look here. After
all that's what manuals are for.

A final remark: You may think for a while that it could be a good idea to
include the ship info of all races into the score. It's not, because with
ship and planet info combined, a player can easily keep track of a race
once he found out its position in the score.

4. No warranties
I wrote this program very carefully and tested it thoroughly. However, to
err is human, and you know that no useful program is really free of bugs of
any kind. By using this program you accept that the risk is completely on
your side and that I cannot be made responsible for problems of any kind
including (but not limited to) loss of data, hardware destruction etc.

5. History
CutScore 1.1 (after a few months of testing):
- First public release.
- Set the number of planets below which the number of ships is shown from
  13 down to 3.
- Added two lines to the info message.
- Manual added.

CutScore 1.0:
- First usage in a Planets game.

6. Known problems
Problems? What problems?  ;-)

7. Please hand on
CutScore is freeware. If you like it, I'm happy. Please feel free to
give CutScore to anyone else and/or upload it to mailboxes or servers if
- you distribute it free of charge (and only free of charge) and
- you distribute it together with this documentation.
You are not allowed to make any changes to the program or the documentation.
If you want a change, please contact me.

8. Contact
For questions, comments, bug reports etc. please contact
Michael_Herrmann@m2.maus.de  or  herrmann@crl.go.jp. If both doesn't work,
someone in the newsgroup maus.spiele.planets will probably know how to find me.


  Last Modified: 25-Feb-2000