Deus Ex
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   Doom III
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   Starcraft / Broodwar
   VGA Planets 4
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   Quake III Arena
   Ultima Online
   Warcraft II

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   Planets 4
   Things to know
   Knowledge Map
   Hulls at a Glance 
   How to play 
   How to Host 

  How to Play!

VGA Planets is one of the more complex turn-based strategy games you might encounter, but its complexity allows for interesting tactical maneuvers and diplomatic arm-twisting. Unfortunately, the game isn't too newbie-friendly.

So let us start the program by running Planets4. The other programs are used to host games, which you can read about here.

The Starting Screen:

If you don't see this after running the game, click on the files button in the top left, and you will be giving this screen.

Click on whichever numbered gray box you like. Since this is the first game you've ever played, all of them will be empty. But it wouldn't be a bad idea if you chose the number 1 slot.

Because you will be required to download , upload, and store files in a folder that VGA Planets 4 is told to use, you need to know a little bit about files and folders. [more]

The Host sends out each player's turn to that respective player, usually through e-mail. The turn files made by Host are ..rst files and the turn files made after a player is done with his turn are .trn files. So when you're playing an online game, you'll get .rst's and send in .trn's.

Create a folder to store your RST and TRN files. I like to create the folder tree where I have a folder named "Games" inside the Planets4 folder. And then inside the Games folder, I create my folders; Game 1; Game 2, Game 3.

But you can do it how ever you'd like as long as you know what it is you are doing.

After the folders are created, You need to tell Planets to use them for both the TRN and RST files. You do this with the buttons labeled "TRN Path" and "RST Path".

Only after all this, are you able to download your RST files, and begin playing.

Once you have downloaded your new RST file, you then need to do something called unpacking it. This will basically unzip all the game data. You only need to unpack the RST file once during the turn, if you do it again later, it will over write any of the commands you have given the game.

After unpacking you can now play the game. It will automatically bring you into the game. However, if you are returning and want to complete your turn, do not unpack it, just click on "Play Saved File".

Slot one is selected here. It is named "Alpha Game" with 3 empires to chose from.

The first empire shows that it has a new RST file, but has not been unpacked yet.

The second one shows it has been unpacked, and most likely played. But no TRN file as been created.

The last one shows a turn file has been created, and is ready to be sent to the host.


Once inside the game this is what you are presented with. You can customize the placement and size of many windows. Be sure to check under options for more customizations that you can do to the interface.

Along the top are a lot of scary looking icons. They are group together based on function.[more]

The middle is the Starmap. You can zoom, and move your view with the controls on the bottom right.(or with hot keys)[more]

Once you click on your starting base and ships, a menue will pop up with a choice. After that you will have a Space Command tool bar with a hammer and anvil graphics.

If the tool bar does not come up use the Space Command button.

On the bottom there are 2 parts.

  • Hammer Object - This is the active object.
  • Anvil Object - You can not give commands to it. You select an anvil object by right clicking on it.
Starting Your Turn:

Some of the first things you should do every turn is to; Check your messages, view VCR's, and check logs. Those provide you with a lot of useful information, like what happened last turn.

Start by selecting an object.

If an object share a location with other objects you will see them between your hammer and anvil bar.

In this example, we have select the named "Ship Express 1". Also at the same location we see 4 ships, and 1 ground base.

See the giant yellow cross? That shows what the hammer is selected. Anvil will have a similar cross that is white, and is longer on the sides than it is the top/bottom.

When you select an object that is yours, you are usually presented with

This is the Ship screen. There are tabs along the top for different ship options.

Right now, we are on the overview screen. We can tell it where to go, how fast, turn on ship devices and more from this screen.

Notice, that this ship has no way point selected, has a speed of 0, has 125 fuel, 700 total cargo, and well, just get use to this screen. You will be using it a lot.

You will be using the starmap a lot with this window, many ships can go farther than what they can see on this limited map.

So to set a way point the the above ship, just use your mouse and select one of the planets. You should see a transparent image of your waypoint. After that use the speed slide bar to increase it's speed. You might notice as you increase the speed you use more fuel, and the ETA gets lower.

Now click the "Trans" tab. Here you can select different objects to transfer with, most if not all will be at the same location, however, you can transfer to waypoint and anvil objects. But for that to happy, you will have to reach that point. I would suggest leaving all the Troops, Food, Supplies, and Med Units on your home base. Fill up your living space with Colonists.

Do this with your other ships, but send them to other planets. You want to drop off Colonists on planets and explore the area around you.

Now you may have noticed other tabs: The Cargo tab is misleading, this is actually where pods and fighters dock with the ship. Now the Nav tab, that is where you can do a little more than very basic things. Might want to see how the game works before trying to understand and use this, but you will be using this screen.

After the ships are done, select the Base.

Yup, another overview screen.

For bases, you will want to build structures, build ships, order parts, and set up options on the switches tab.

Max out the number of farms you can build on all planets that can be farmed.

If you don't have one, build a government center.

Contra, sell if you have some.

For switches, click on Terra Former and turn it on if your planet is nor farmable, with it on, you can change the temperature.

Once you have a government center, turn it on, and start transferring a lot of money, you will need a whole lot of money for upgrades.

Building a ship, I suggest making a ship that would make a good scout, something fast, with really good scanners. Don't spend much on the ship, because it will suck no mater what. Make a few of them. The faster you get ships out there and see where everything is, the better off you are.

Now, let us go to HQ and do some upgrades.

The important things to upgrade early on, is Engines and then Hulls. Everything else is 2nd. Although Planet Tech level 2 is helpful.(for public space ports)

Spy missions do not work till turn 11, but are very useful in finding and hampering the enemy.

Exotic tech is another great spot to spend lots and lots of money. But you should wait till you have a good economy before spending money here.

You most likely will want to change the tax rate to a higher one. But keep your race information in mind, and watch your Colonists and native happiness.

Finishing Your Turn:

With that, you just did your first turn. A basic turn, but a turn none the less. But you are not done yet. Click on the Files button on the top left, and you will be back at the Starting Screen. From here you need to click on make turn. This will create the file you need to send to the host. You do remember the folder you set for TRN and RST files don't you?