VGA Planets 3 was written in 1992 by Tim Wisseman , and received its most recent update in 2002 (version 3.22.046). Over that period, it acquired a large and loyal following. One member of that following was Joshua Perina , who, in 2010, created Planets Nu based on VGA Planets 3, but with a web-based interface.
There are numerous differences between these two games. The reason for some of these changes is unknown, but not for all of them. Where the reason for a change is known, it will be provided.
For those players who are familiar with VGAP3 configuration, the equivalent settings for Planets Nu, and how to change those that can be, can be found in the Default Configuration page. As these are optional settings, none of them will be covered in this document.
The purpose of this document is to simplify the transition of a VGAP3 player to Planets Nu. It is not to bring those players up to date on all the possible tactics that Planets Nu has enabled. It is strongly suggested that a VGAP3 player (or any player new to Planets Nu) research their selected race in the documentation and in the guides.
As Planets Nu continues to evolve, additional differences may appear. In addition, this list was created by the document Editors with assistance from the players. Because of this, it's possible that some changes are missing. If you are aware of a difference that's not listed, please inform the Editors, including as much detail as possible. We will investigate the provided information and make the appropriate changes.
Only the differences between the latest version of VGAP3 and the current (and ever-changing) version of Planets Nu will be listed. Additionally, this document focuses on features of VGAP3 that are not available at Planets Nu. Features that are available at Planets Nu but not in VGAP3 (enhancements) might not be covered here, depending on the impact of the specific enhancement, as seen by the Editors.
Changes between the various versions of VGAP3 are described in the VGAP3 Release Notes (offsite), and will not be covered here.
The Host in VGA Planets 3 could look at, and modify, turn files before running the Host process. In Planets Nu, the Host does not have this ability. Once a game starts, the Host can only pause and resume a game. On the other hand, the Host created the game, and it's possible that some of the parameters could have been tuned to favor certain styles of play. While this doesn't happen very often, it is less likely to happen when the Host isn't playing.
In VGA Planets, it is possible to add features to the game by using an "add-on". As Planets Nu has full control of the Host environment, add-ons no longer work. Additional features in Planets Nu appear when the developers write them. These new features normally appear as advantages or starships that can be "researched" (purchased with Campaign Resources - earned by playing) for use in Campaign games. Some of these starships and advantages have been determined to be important enough to a race that they're enabled in non-Classic games without cost.
It should be noted that, due to the architecture of this game, it is possible to have client-side extensions that add features to the user interface. Some of these extensions, and how to install them, are described here.
Friendly codes are completely case sensitive in VGA Planets, but are only case sensitive for matching purposes in Planets Nu.
If, during a "merge ion storms" phase, a weakening storm engulfs a storm of even lower voltage and the new radius is beyond 200 Light Years, then NuHost forces the merged storm to remain a weakening storm. One volt is subtracted from the merged storm, if necessary. This difference is exclusive to NuHost.
In VGA Planets, players could either use the free "Shareware" version, or could make a one-time payment to get a "Registered" version. With either version, it was up to the player to find a Host running a game, or to Host a game themselves.
In Planets Nu, a player can either pay a small monthly fee to become a Premium player (similar to a "Registered" player, but not permanent), or they can play as a non-Premium player (similar to a "Shareware" player). All games are hosted on the Planets Nu servers. If a player can't find a game they're interested in, they can create a custom game, which is also run on the Planets Nu servers.
In VGA Planets, shareware players are limited to a maximum of tech level 6, and this applied to all planets. Planets Nu limits non-Premium players to tech level 7, and allows Homeworlds (any Homeworlds) access to tech level 10.
In VGA Planets, Shareware players are not permitted to keep excess tech, except those granted by natives, if they take over as a replacement player. Excess tech levels are removed without refund, although planets are allowed to keep engine tech level 7. Planets Nu allows non-Premium players to keep excess tech, even if they took over as a replacement player, or if their Premium membership expired.
In VGA Planets, the Tachyon Device and Aries Refinery functions are not available to Shareware players. Planets Nu allows use of all normal hull designs by all players.
In VGA Planets, many special Friendly Code functions are not available to Shareware players. Planets Nu allows use of all special Friendly Codes by all players. The Friendly Codes that are limited to Registered players under VGA Planets are:
VGA Planets uses a single default map for all games. This map can be changed, but it is a time consuming process. Planets Nu generates a random map for each game.
VGA Planets displays the mineral amounts and concentrations in very rough approximations. Planets Nu gives accurate information on mineral amounts and concentrations.
VGA Planets displays the happiness levels and the changes thereof in very rough approximations. Planets Nu gives accurate information on happiness levels of natives and colonists.
When a planet has no colonists under VGA Planets, the Native Happiness doesn't change. Under Planets Nu, the natives have the chance to become happier with no colonists.
The unit for planetary climates is degrees Fahrenheit (°F) in VGA Planets, and degrees Wisseman (°W) in Planets Nu.
VGA Planets will scrap every ship component, including hulls and parts in use by the ship under construction, with the dmp friendly code, canceling ship construction in the process. Planets Nu, on the other hand, keeps hulls and parts in use, allowing ship construction to remain intact.
In VGA Planets, any overpopulation on non-desert, non-artcic worlds would instantly die. In Planets Nu, they are instead subject to normal overpopulation rules.
Planets Nu requires a slightly higher population to support a given number of structures than VGA Planets. Whereas VGA Planets rounds the number of structures supported with given a formula, Planets Nu uses truncation on those formulae.
Due to differences in formulae, Planets Nu will give slightly fewer bays than fighters from planetary defense. VGA Planets gives the very same number of bays as fighters. This paragraph applies only to numbers provided by the planet.
Exclusive to VGA Planets, only the first 50 starships (in ID order) could have their hull names displayed. Otherwise, only owner, total mass, and position were displayed. Neither WinPlan nor Planets Nu are affected by this issue.
Newly built ships in VGA Planets are given a random ID from 1 to 500. Planets Nu strictly uses the lowest ID available.
In VGA Planets, ships are allowed to set any primary enemy setting, including the race that owns the ship. Planets Nu not only disallows setting yourself as primary enemy, but clears it from any ships captured by the victor matching the primary enemy setting, either in combat, or via surrender to starbase. Primary Enemy setting is preserved only when giving a ship away, or if a ship is tow-captured.
In VGA Planets, the Aries Transport could not use the NAL friendly code to disable alchemy. The NAL friendly code works normally with the Aries in Planets Nu.
In Planets Nu, a Firecloud that hits a web mine can be used in a Chunnel. In VGA Planets, Fireclouds are not permitted to be used in a Chunnel if they hit a web mine.
In Planets Nu, maximum waypoint distance is unlimited. In VGA Planets, waypoints are trimmed to a maximum of 170 Light-Years after movement. The trimming is necessary to prevent a crash of the original Planets client, version 3.0.
In potential relationship to the waypoint trimming, VGA Planets limited intercept distances to a maximum of roughly 200 LY. Planets Nu, on the other hand, does not impose a distance limitation on intercept.
In VGA Planets, Lizard planets last until they exceeded 150% damage or the battle ends after hitting 100% damage, whichever comes first. In Planets Nu, Lizard planets are immediately captured once damage level reaches 100%.
In VGA Planets, use of the TRG Friendly Code and a Kill! Mission required fuel to use. In Planets Nu, that same combination does not require any fuel to use. However, anything that would trigger the Out Of Fuel condition will reset the Kill! Mission.
In VGA Planets, Federation ships (assuming Federation Crew Bonus is on) recharge their shields up to 25% at the start of each battle. In Planets Nu, the shield recharge occurs at the end of each battle. This is most notable if shields are lost due to a dangerous ion storm.
Planets Nu requires planets to have at least one defense post to attack with the ATT or NUK codes. VGA Planets allows a planet to use ATT, but not NUK, even with zero defense posts.
In VGA Planets, there was a hard limit of 500 minefields. In Planets Nu, when the soft limit of 500 minefields is exceeded, the smallest and least useful minefields might be removed by the system. The details of the removal are described in the minefields page under Minefield Limit.