VGA Planets Super Site


Name: Phost Author: Stefan Reuther
Type: Hosting program Website: PHost Homepage

Although most players won’t realize it, it is the hosting program that actually runs VGA Planets. Clients such as Winplan or VPA are used to give orders, but once the *.trn files are sent to the host, it is the host program he or she uses that runs the game. It is the host program that determines how battles are handled, if meteors come falling out of the sky, how much taxes are earned, how happy the natives are, etcetera etcetera.

Phost is a 3rd-party developed hosting program, in which the P stands for "portable". Born out of the demand for a hosting program that would run on non-Microsoft platforms (mainly: UNIX), team Phost developed their alternative to Tim Wisseman’s host.exe. Phost is not an addon, it is a complete replacement for host.exe.

Although at first based on host.exe, Phost is quite different from Host. Among others the order in which different actions in the game are handled is different, the way in which battles are resolved is different, a number of friendly codes is new in Phost, and Phost allows ships with twice as many weapons in battle than Host does.

Among it’s many fans Phost is widely praised for it’s portability, it’s speed (it runs faster than Host) and it’s very accurate documentation. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the first two aspects (mainly because I neither host games nor use a non-Microsoft platform), and have some doubts about the third argument. What most fans gladly seem to forget is that the Phost docs only list differences between Host and Phost, next to the formulas used. So the very basic descriptions and rules are left out, probably because those are already handled in the official VGA Planets documentation. A polite credit for that documentation would be nice.

But in the end, it’s all a matter of preferences anyway. Everyone should make a choice for themselves, and use the program they like best. I guess some people like them both, and play in both Host and Phost games. A word of warning for new players, or players new to Phost: be sure to understand the differences between Host and Phost, because some of them have a serious impact on how to play the game. It might seem a small step from Host to Phost, but especially the different battle-mechanics –especially when combined with Plist, the alternative shiplist- are not to be underestimated.

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