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, they are mentioned in the linked page instead of 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 sold for megacredits, 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 starship component, including hulls and parts in use by the starship under construction, with the dmp friendly code, canceling starship construction in the process. Planets.nu, on the other hand, keeps hulls and parts in use, allowing starship 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.
In VGA Planets, Crystalline colonies with a climate of 14 or less could not grow any new clans. Planets.nu allows Crystalline colonies to grow regardless of climate (although formula calculations still require at least a climate of 2 to grow).
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 starships in VGA Planets are given a random ID from 1 to 500. Planets.nu strictly uses the lowest ID available.
In VGA Planets, starships are allowed to set any primary enemy setting, including the race that owns the starship. Planets.nu not only disallows setting yourself as primary enemy, but clears it from any starships 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 starship away, or if a starship is tow-captured.
In VGA Planets, the Aries Transport could not use the NAL friendly code to disable alchemy. The NAL friendly code works properly with the Aries in Planets.nu.
In VGA Planets, each starship is allowed to unload cargo onto a foreign planet (or jettison into space) and transfer to a foreign starship on the same turn. Planets.nu does not allow unload/jettison and foreign ship transfer on the same turn.
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 light-years. 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 starships (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.
VGA Planets uses 110 seeds to start VCRs. Planets.nu instead allows 118 seeds to start VCRs.
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.