Explore Map

Author: Thomas Voigt

Another PDK spinoff!
Current version: v1.0b

This is last version for Tim HOST
All higher version numbers are for PHOST only.

Explore Map will create individual xyplan.dat files for each specified player. Explore map will ‘hide’ planets that the player has not yet ‘seen’. Making universe exploration more inventive a scenerio. As players fly out into space they will ‘see’ new planets. These are updated to each player’s personal xyplan??.dat file.

ExplMap works with both HOST and PHOST. However, some features will only be available in PHOST games (alliance support, xtern commands).

Non-DOS versions can be built with the PDK.

The sources are distributed under the GNU general public license. Please see the file COPYING for more details.



Your host should send you a file, XYPLAN??.DAT (ie; xyplan1.dat – player1’s file, xyplan10.dat – player10’s file) with _every_new_rst_. Copy this file into your Main vgap dir as ‘xyplan.dat’. (backup any maps that you need to save for different games)

If your host uses PHOST v2.5 or later then you can share all planets you ever scanned with your allies. Just send a comman processor message (i.e. a message to yourself) containing “xtern SharePlanets <players>” (e.g. “xtern SharePlanets 2 4 11” will share all your planets with players 2, 4 and 11). The process is not automatic for later turns, you just tell these players all planets you currently know. This information is not passed by alliances (i.e. if player 2 is allied with player 6 then only player 2 will get these planets, not player 6). Of course nothing prevents any player from passing these info with xtern commands.

If you have allow a vision alliance to a player then he’ll get all planets you scanned (_not_ planets you own). If you allow a planetary alliance then he’ll get all planets you own (_not_ the planets you scan). Clearly, if you allow both alliances then your ally gets all planets you know about.

That’s it! (See “NOTES” and “PROBLEMS” below)



NEVER use a known map. (For instance, if you use the standard map then players will just use it and know all planets. There’s no penalty for doing so.) So make sure that you generate a new map and don’t send it to the players.

Place Explmap.exe in your main vgap dir.
Place EXPLMAP.CFG in the host dir and edit it if you like.

ExploreMap will work with any HOST version and PHOST versions later than v2.5.


Run ExplMap either after hosting (preferred), or after the Phost -2 phase. You must run Explmap after each hosting, and distribute the output files to the players with each new rst (as the maps will update due to exploration).

explmap [options] [data_dir] [root_dir]


data_dir is the path of your host data ie; c:\vgap\game1

root_dir is the path of your main vgap dir ie; c:\vgap

Valid options :
-h ExploreMap will print a help screen and exit.
-v ExploreMap will print the version info and exit.
-f<filename> ExploreMap will use the config file <filename>

Explmap will create XYPLAN??.DAT files in the host data-dir. Send the appropriate file to each player (xyplan1.dat – player1, xyplan10.dat – player10 …) after EACH hosting.

Once a planet is scanned, it is permanently saved to the player’s xyplan??.dat (explmap.hst is the history file)

Explmap writes an XYPLAN??.DAT for each player. Insure that you send these maps to the appropriate player. XYPLAN1.DAT is player1’s map, XYPLAN11.DAT is player11’s map…



Explmap uses the config file EXPLMAP.CFG to read its config. The following options are available :

– ScanRanges : the scan range for each race. The scan range is the maximum range how far the scanners of each race range.

– DetectRanges: If we don’t use random scanning then we’ll detect all planets within scanrange. However, if we don’t then we can set a range in which planets are always detected. This is the DetectRanges config.

– DefenseBonusPercent: This option defines the defense rates of each race. The values are the percentage at which the enemy scan range is multiplied. If a race has a defense rate of 60% then their planets can only be detected if the enemy is closer than 40% of his scan range.

– ShareAlliedPlanets: The “ShareAlliedPlanets” option will add the position of all allied planets to the map if the planetary level of the alliance is enabled.

– ShareScannedPlanets: The “ShareScannedPlanets” option will add the position of all planets scanned by an ally to the map if the vision level of the alliance is enabled.

– UseRandomScanning : This option decides whether all planets within scan range are detected or not. If you set “UseRandomScanning” to “no” then all planets in scan range will be detected. If you set it to “Yes” then ExploreMap will do a random roll to decide whether the planet is scanned or not.

To determine the chances of scanning a planet, let’s assume this :

Range = ScanRange *(100-DefenseBonus)/100 (maximum scan range)
Vision = DetectRange*(100-DefenseBonus)/100 (distance at which you always scan the planet)

Chances for detecting a planet are:

100% if the distance is smaller than Vision
0% if the distance is greater than Range
100% * ((Range-Distance)/(Range-Vision))^2 if Vision <= Distance <= Range

Example :
If a race has a scan range of 200 ly and a detect range of 100 ly, then the chances for detecting an unowned planet at 150ly distance are 25%. If the planet is 175 ly away then the chance is 6.25%.

All planets within 100 lys will be detected, and no planets further than 200 ly will be detected.

However, if the planet is owned by a a race with 40% defense bonus then the range for always detecting the planet decreases to 60 ly. The maximum detection range is 120 ly, the chance for detecting a planet at 90 ly is 25%.

Each ship will scan for you, doing its own random roll, so if you scan with several ships then your chances to scan a planet increase.



–ExplMap should dump the unknown planets near 0,0 or 10000,10000 (some extreme position).

Hosts should tell their players that they shouldn’t try to fly to these planets ! The planets are NOT really there, in reality they are somewhere else on the map, but ExploreMap has to put them somewhere on the player maps to keep the checksums intact. For technical reasons they can’t be placed somewhere else. In most cases these planets will be far away from the edges of the map, but you never know what happens if you use very unusual maps.

Attempts to colonize these planets might lead to yellow or red alerts with PHOST and CHECK.

– You should avoid using EXPLMAP with maps that have planets at very low coordinates (0-300). Otherwise planets that are not scanned and got moved to the outside might seem to be “normal” planets.

– EXPLMAP generates only a checksum over the X coordinates, as most versions of PLANETS.EXE (and WinPlan) do not check the Y coordinates. However, I’ve heard that there are versions out who do check the Y coordinates. Therefore EXPLMAP will give you a warning if the checksum over the Y coordinates is wrong. Usually you can safely ignore this warning.

– There is a problem with Crystal Ball v2.35 or earlier. Crystal Ball copies the map into its own data files on the very first run. Therefore CBall won’t show any planets that you scanned after running CBall for the first time. The only way to fix this is to delete planet.dbv in your CBall data directory. You’ll lose the information about planets that you orbited earlier (and don’t own now), but the minefield data and ship data remains intact.

I’ve heard that there are severe problems with more recent versions of Crystal Ball (v2.4 ?). So if it doesn’t work then it’s probably not your fault – but I can’t fix it either.

–I tested ExplMap with WinPlan, Vplread, EchoView, Crystal Ball (see above) and Informer, all seemed to work. If your favorite util doesn’t like ExplMap then either bug the author or switch to one of the 5 programs above.
–ExplMap’s scan range does not effect the normal Visual/Sensor ranges. That means if your sensor scan range is bigger than the range you use for ExplMap then your players might get sensor sweeps from planets they haven’t scanned. Same for dark sense. Sadly there is no way to tell which planets got scanned this way so I can’t add these planets to the map.

–ExplMap was written by Thomas Voigt, and is freeware. You should use it with the understanding that NO WARRANTE is given. If something nasty happens, so be it — you’re using ExplMap at your own risk!

–This confusing doc was written by Gordy Pine <[email protected]>

p.s. My thanks to Thomas for yet another great util!


This is v1.0b.

Bug history :
v0.4 (beta) : ExplMap wouldn’t work if alliances were disabled in the ExplMap config.
v1.0a : ExplMap would crash if the detectrange was the same as the scanrange.

Please report all bugs + problems to me. Have fun !

Thomas ([email protected])

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