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Verker's VML-mod v1.1a help file--------------------------


3-legal disclaimer
4-file list
6-version history v1.1 and v1.1a
7-version history v1.0a and v1.0b
8-version history v1.0   (final)
9-version history v0.9b (beta 3)

10-version history v0.9a (beta 2) 11-version history v0.9 (beta) 12-known issues, bugs 13-feedback, download of latest version

14-appendix-the ideas behind VML (original posting for v0.9 from RGCS)


+ VML-modfile and VML-helpfile by Mag. Dieter "Verker" Wallisch, 2002-2003 (http://members.chello.at/verker/VML-download.html)

+ Splashscreen graphics "Ventilation" by Moin (http://phusion9.edesigns.nl/) + StarEd by Stuart "Pirate Lord" Douglas (http://www.pirates.retreat.btinternet.co.uk) + Stars! v2.0 by Jeff Johnson and Jeff McBride (http://www.crisium.com) + Ship icons from Stars! Supernova Genesis, copyright MareCrisium (http://www.crisium.com) + Stars! v2.7h published by empire interactive

+ With support from L.W.Johnstone, S.Douglas and T.Yamamoto - thank you guys! + With support from my girl Hannelore, who is so incredibly understanding about my Stars! addiction - I love you!

***legal disclaimer***

The VML-mod and all its files are provided for free and "as is". You are using them at your

own risk. The author will not take responsibility for any errors, failure or harm that may
occur on soft- or hardware, within networks, or for any losses that could possibly be due 

to such a failure. This is unofficial work by a private person, 100% free from any commercial

issues: The author is not and was not involved with the makers of Stars! or with their 

publisher, empire interactive, in any way. Neither of these have tested or given any kind of

permission for this mod (*). They will not offer any help or support for any problems caused
by a modified .exe file.

(*) Well, concerning mare crisium, I can report that in their eyes the (quote) "Stars! 2 lifespan has exceeded any reasonable expectation by a huge margin; user community efforts like

this to keep it alive are pretty cool. [...] Mare Crisium won't harass you about this kind
of thing, as long as it isn't abused." (end quote)

Important: Stars! is copyrighted software. You need to buy a retail version or serial code to run the game. Unless you legally own a copy, you are neither allowed to download the VML-files, nor to use it playing the game. You are not allowed to pass or publish the VML-files, change their content or put them on your website for download, without the authors


Since using them requires substantial changes to be made to the original Stars!.exe file, the

author advises to make a backup of this file before using VML.

***file list:***

The VML-mod comes in a .zip package called “VML_1.1a.zip”. It contains a modified Stars!.exe named “VML-modfile1.1a.exe” and the docs you’re currently reading named either “VML-helpfile1.1a.txt” or "VML-helpfile1.1a.doc" in the WinWord version.


This mod was made with/for Stars! 2.6j rc4 (english) and will only work properly with that version. Upgrade now, if you haven't already.

Installing it is simple: Just copy “VML-modfile1.1a.exe” into your Stars! directory and you’re done. You can now choose between running std Stars! or the VML-mod by doubleclicking

the desired .exe file.

There were several reasons to provide a modified .exe instead of a .stm file (a filetype used by StarEd to modify the original Stars!.exe): it is simple, you do not need to manipulate with files, you do not need to download and install Xtreme Borders and StarEd

(though you should, check Stuart Douglas’ website www.pirates.retreat.btinternet.co.uk).
And there’s the updated graphics in VML: You won't get these by using an .stm file.

***version history: Changes in v1.1 and v1.1a***

999 switched to Stars! v2.6 jrc4 (registered shareware) instead of former 2.7 jrc3 000 Included splashscreen 001 revised item graphics where necessary 002 increased resource cost of IT exclusive stargates 003 reduced range of chaff shredders to r6 004 changed weight of construction modules 005 changed engine names 006 lowered con level of PB hull by 1 (now at 14) 007 lowered con level of ultra station by 1 (now at 15) 008 lowered con level of deathstar by 1 (now at 19) 010 increased starbase shipyard to 1600kt 011 updated the helpfile 012 some minor changes (correcting graphics) 013 added gp slots on ultra and deathstar instead of elec/mech ones 014 all 32 pcs race emblems now with a new look

***version history: Changes in v1.0a and v1.0b***

001 Superlatanium and heavy strobnium had their armor value reduced by 125 pts to

       1375 dp, to prevent a math overflow in dp on ultra stations and deathstars 

002 Made changes to the DN hull: inevitable, since putting heavies all over weapon

       and armor slots will cause a math overflow in weight. New ditribution of slots,
       that allows a maximum of 22 shields / or 10 armor / or 30 weapons. This may be
       less than the original DN, but still seems ok compared to the MkII BB, which 
       has a maximum of 14 shields / 8 armor / 22 weapons. 

003 Reduced every combo slot in the game by 1, resulting in the galleon having 2*1,

       the pocket nubian 4*1, the nubian 4*2 

004 Made changes to the HE metamorph hull: slot distribution 6-3-3-2-2-1 gp slots,

       less engines required and a cost decrease in order to keep it attractive vs the 
       galleon with its combo slots 

005 Galleon moved from con13 to con14 (see above) 006 The cost for std TF decreased to 80, in case of TT to 60 points, in order to

       shorten CAs advantages a little more

007 Had help from a pro implementing correct pictures for stargates, TF tech and

       minelaying robots

***version history: Changes in v1.0***

Only minor tweaks, but using a modified .exe that contains different pictures for the shiplines. Updated the helpfile.

***version history: Changes in v0.9b (beta 3):***

000 Chaff shredders now have appropriate power settings to cut through chaff

       a lot faster than missiles do, without representing a serious threat for 
       main line warships of their areas (power ratings: Mk I 60dp / Mk II 150dp / Mk III 375dp)

001 Swapped the picture sets of Galleon Mk II and Medium Freighter, resulting

       in the MF now having the picture set of the original small freighter. 
       Tweaked the look of Galleon Mk II hull (slim cargo bay) to better fit the 
       looks of the picture set, which was originally the MF one. See changes in 
       0.9a how the Galleon got the picture set of the original small freighter 
       (I know, I know - clear as mud, but it is 3:30am meanwhile...)

002 Increased the con tech levels needed to get bases with unlimited shipyards.

       There's no reason to get these when the big hulls are still a long way to 
       get. The strong improvements to bases in general will hopefully cope for the 
       setback this will mean to AR races growth. Ultras now at con16, deathstars 
       at con20

003 "Switched" the PB and BB hulls flexibility after a newsgroup poll. The BB

       "Mk II" now gets the flexibility which the former PB hull had. You will now 
       get the smaller, inflexible PB hull earlier than the revised BB Mk II hull

004 Changed the DNs rear elec slots into elec/mech ones, to keep his flexibility

       advantage over the BB Mk II hull. Revised DN now also named "Mk II"

005 Revised the shiplines con tech requirements accordingly to the changes named

       above: PB hull at con15, BB Mk II hull at con19, PN hull at con22, DN Mk II 
       hull at con21. This looks closer than it is in reality, since you won't get 
       the alien hull all the time and since only WMs get the DN Mk II ofc

006 Fitted revised shipline with appropriate hull initiative, from Nubian lowest

       (init1) to scout highest (init10). See changes of v0.9 about reversing init 

007 Slight changes to the gas pump starbase hull: increased cost a little, reduced

       shipyard capacity to 75 kt

***version history: Changes in v0.9a (beta 2):***

000 Lowered the required con levels for both the CC and BC hulls by 1 (now con10

       and con11)

001 Increased the required con levels for the PN (supplied by the MT) by 2 (now

       con22), altered mineral costs for the PN

002 Revised the Galleon Mk II hull (now with 2*2 combo slots). Galleon now has

       the picture set from the former small freighter hull

003 Revised the PB costs, in order to avoid it being too expensive vs the BB

       when 1st available, due to the latter getting miniaturization benefits. PB 
       now has the picture set from the former Galleon hull

004 Revised chaff shredder weapons, which should now occur at a time when chaff

       becomes interesting [power still subject to change in v1.0], shredders now 
       cost mainly Ger

005 Alien mining robot now requires additional bio tech to become available 006 Introducing heavy armor plates for starbases only. 2 types, which require

       high con

007 Adapting armor items to fit with the starbase armor plates concept. Higher

       con levels for Kelarium, Valanium (now at 600dp)

008 Introducing bionic and depleted bionic armor for ships (need bio tech, Ger

       to build)

***version history: Changes to Stars!.exe in v0.9 (1st beta):***

000 Changed stargates with infinite weight limits into ones with high weight

       limits (now 750/300, 1500/800, 1500/any) in order to prevent ITs from gating 
       vessels with items, which are intended to be "starbase only"

001 Renamed mass drivers (only std drivers are called mass drivers, PP exclusive

       ones have different names). Slight changes of tech requirements and costs of 
       the PP exclusive drivers [VML-mod v1.0 may feature higher warps for PP drivers 
       if players demand that]

002 Changed r0 weapons into long range, starbase exclusive chaff shredders (3 types) 003 Changed cap missiles into starbase exclusive components. Altered tech requirements

       and chance to hit.

004 Changed torpedoes to fit with the cap missile changes (mass, range, cth) 005 TF now at higher tech levels in general (eg radTF +/-15 at weap20) 006 TT slightly cheaper but at higher bio fitting with altered std TF, altered

       values a bit, highest levels need con tech, too

007 Genesis device cheaper in res, but needs minerals to engage (to be run on reds) 008 Mining robots have a 20-25% increase in efficiency 009 Altered weight of ML robots, slightly increased ML rate of speed traps 010 Altered free warpspeeds of ramscoop engines, to limit vessels using starbase

       exclusive items. Engine names now reflect free warpspeeds [exact values still 
       subject to change]. 

011 Replaced the small freighter hull with the PB hull (pocket battleship) 012 Revised the Galleon 013 Increased con tech needed for CC, BC, BB, DN ships (eg BB at con 16 now) 014 Replaced the mini morph with the PN hull (pocket Nubian) 015 Reduced fuel capacity of Nubian, Sfx, Galleon, DN, BB, BC 016 Altered initiative values for std ship hulls, basically reversing them 017 Nubians now have a limited number of combo slots 018 Replaced the orbital fort with the gas pump (90kt shipyard) 019 Increased base armor of all bases 020 Slightly increased tech requirements for ultras and death stars, added 3rd

       orbital slot on these

021 Limited the std starbase to a 1250kt shipyard

***Known issues, bugs:***

001 The braindead AI won't be able to make the most of the changes. Expect

       starting vessels to be useless, expect weird ship designs. This mod is 
       made for human (pbem) play!

002 Some items may show incorrect pictures. ***fixed*** 003 When the MT gives out ships, it will use the known designs, but based on

       the revised hulls. The designs you get may turn out to be completely useless, 
       maybe not even able to go anywhere

004 SS without con expensive and without start at3 will start with a "shadow

       transport" ship. The exe uses the known design (1 engine, 1 transport cloak), 
       but with the PB hull, which will become available at con20 in the game. You 
       cannot copy, but edit the design - the exe won't let you build any ships based 
       on that before con20, so this is consodered a minor bug. It is true that SS will 
       have an advantage when scrapping the ship (tech level advance, small amount of 
       minerals), but that isn't completely unthematic with its spying bonus.

Hosts using this mod should inform players whether they have to delete the design,

       losing the ship, or whether scrapping it is allowed. All the above is valid 
       for other cases, when a race starts with a ship based on the former small 
       freighter hull (don't know any).

***downloads, feedback, bug reports***

You can download the latest version of the VML-mod and check out other Stars! stuff at


Please send your feedback to verker@home.pages.at. I will be running a pbem with my mod from time to time, just check RGCS or the "VML-lounge" at the AH forum http://library.southern.edu/sahforum/index.php?t=thread&frm_id=36&rid=130&S=23ab755a919927e2ba07f6436cd38ed6

, if you're interested to play.

Have fun playing the VML-mod – keep Stars! alive.

Verker, Feb. 4th, 2003

end of helpfile---------------------------------------


      • the ideas behind VML (original posting for v0.9 from rec.games.computer.stars)***

Hi all,

Warning: this is for tough Stars! addicts only. But before we start:

1st of all, my credit and respect goes out to Stuart Douglas, who provided the great StarEd utility to our community. Unfortunately his program, which allows to modify a lot of things in the Stars!.exe, so far didn't get the attention it deserves IMHO. This post will try and change that. For those of you who don't know yet, StarEd 1.2 is the current version, and you can get it from Stuarts website: the URL is www.pirates.retreat.btinternet.co.uk (note: you won't find the VML-mod there [yet], for now you'll have to mail me for a copy. If you're running a well known Stars! website and you want to become the home of the VML-mod, please drop me a line).

What does "VML-mod" mean?

Verker's-Missing-Link-modification: When I started modding Stars!, I had one goal in mind: to create nothing less than the new "standard" version of Stars! used in pbems and on AH - the missing link between Stars! 2.x and SN, so to speak. Before you call me nuts: I'm not saying my current mod is or will ever be anywhere close to that attempt - I'm just trying. Time will tell if I / we manage to add a little to this wonderful game, instead of just uselessly sitting around waiting for SN (which won't make it any time soon it seems).

Note: I did contact Ron from AH about running a test with AH using the modded .exe. For understandable reasons, which I cannot mention here, Ron said he was unable to fulfill the request.

Keeping my goal in mind, I tried to avoid a common modding mistake: changing too much at one time. Players shall still recognize "their" Stars!, tech paths and breakpoints shouldn't differ so much that you get a whole new game. What you won't find here is things like capital ships with 100eds of slots, a change of SFXs into "carriers", big changes to PRT related items etc. What you will find here is changes to items, which are too popular or too unpopular in Stars! pbems IHMO, as well as changes, that should enhance strategic/tactical abilities within the game. Don't worry, that's still a

  • lot* of changes. You'll find a complete list of changes once the VML-mod

found its home on a website somewhere.

Following is a list of my most important changes to the Stars!.exe with some explanations. BTW, I used Stars! 2.7 Jrc3 (english), just in case it matters.

0) There's 3 things I didn't care about when doing the mod: (a) graphics - you'll see things like a ML50 having a ML40 picture; I'll wait until someone finds a way to manipulate the graphics in Stars! before I get to that (b) the AI and the problems it has with my changes - guess what, you can test the VML-mod vs the AI, but it's meant for human play in pbems; BTW I designed it having a long slow tech game in mind (c) MT ship designs - StarEd doesn't allow access in that area, so the MT will provide his well know designs, now using a hull that won't fit.

1) Capital missiles is the place I started with. They're just too powerful, too common are BB designs using them, too easy is it to take out even ARs (note: I'm not too fond of ARs, still I have to mention them often here, since starbase changes mean changing that PRT, too) deathstars using a few BBs and some chaff. Also, I never quite liked the idea of ships having an infinite amount of missiles aboard, like the Stars!.exe suggests. Finally, torpedoes are hardly being used - at least compared to the cap missiles.

Since I regard starbases as way too weak in Stars!, the idea was to change cap missiles into "starbase exclusive" items. That's not too easy to manage: Stars! supports a weight up to 30000 kts for a single item. If you put a single 30000 kt jihad missile on an empty CC hull using a FM engine, you end up with a fuel consumption of approx 37767mg for a single year of warp 9 travel going 81.15 lys, about what I want to get. Unfortunately, that doesn't do the trick. The Stars!.exe will go nuts and show (and calculate fuel with) wrong low weight values, once a vessel exceeds a weight of approximately 65000kts (I just hope there isn't a similar problem with fleet weight, too - at least, in testing it doesn't seem so). Since Dreadnoughts can carry a max of 40 missiles, a maximum weight of 1600kts per missile will have to do.

That still leaves 3 cases of using 'em, besides on bases: stationary support vessels for bases once you got unlimited shipyards [see below] (I'm ok with that), gating them with IT gates (don't like that), going with ramscoops at "free" warpspeeds (hmmm...).

Since IT's advantages are quite huge, I ended up with eliminating gates with "any" weight capacity. ITs will still be able to gate a lot better than anybody else, but with any gates still in the game, my attempt with the capital missiles would have been completely useless.

The ramscoops are a different case: Warp for free always seemed a strange idea from my POV, especially at higher speeds. But since NRSE is a very common choice these days and since I like the idea of being able to still possibly use cap missiles on ships, but being reduced to slow speeds (or a few missiles) doing that, I decided to go a compromise here: ramscoops will still go for free in some cases, but only at low warps, enabling you to mount cap missiles on ships going slow. So, choosing NRSE in the RW basically means you loose that option playing the VML-mod (at least until you get the alien engine, that is...). The downside here is that I had to manipulate with both fuel consumption of engines (eg even the best ones burn more fuel now at high warps - boy, the consumption graphs look nasty, but they are working for me as long as I don't have the time to get that better) and with base fuel in the various (fighter) hulls. Overall, fuel and supporting vessels should play a bigger part in the VML-mod.

I kept the missiles at r6 and r7 - basically, bases using them will outrange ships with torpedoes by 2 at compareable tech due to the +1 range advantage, that bases get.

2) Torpedoes were changed to fit the idea above: light (compared to cap missiles, still not easy to gate), affordable, need some computer power to hit, ranging from r3 for the alpha to r6 for the omega.

3) Bases - being a part of the cap missile concept, they recieved some changes. Eg., their base armor went up a lot. Also, I never liked the idea that you could have an unlimited shipyard right from the start. It is more than difficult to change that, keeping ISB useful as is at the same time, and keeping ARs special needs in mind. Part of the problem is the starting equipment of races, esp so with the 2 planet PRTs. Even if you change the orbital fort into some kind of ultra station requiring con20 to build, IT and PP will still start having their 2nd world fitted with one. Damn.

If you're setting the starbase con20 - same here, everybody gets one at the start. I still considered that an option: you got 1 unlimited dock from the start, which you cannot reproduce for a long time - but ARs need for bases to grow in doesn't make that idea work.

Check the mod for what I ended up with. I hope limiting the starbase to a shipyard of below 1600kt will do the trick. It will also hinder you to put cap missiles or chaff shredders (see below) on ships, even single ones. Basically, everybody will get a cheap dock instead of the fort, while ISB is needed to mount cap missiles on ships via ultras, unless you have the deathstar.

Best bases now support 3 orbital slots for a gate plus 2 mass drivers.

I'm still unsure wether the tech requirements for the bases go well enough with the new shipline con requirements. May well be they don't. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do more testing - in any case, I had to stay as close as possible to the old tech requirements for ultras and deathstars, otherwise the ARs would complain too much I guess. IOW: tech level requirements for starbase hulls are subject to change due to players reports for the 1.0 version of VML-mod.

4) Alien items general: in general, learning to build alien items will always allow you to do things that can't be done other ways - at least not for the given cost. Eg the alien engine is the only one allowing vessels with cap missiles to go warp8 for free, the alien hull is the only one being perfectly versatile before the Nubs etc.

Concerning the genesis device, a lot of players wished it was cheaper in order to be able to run it at reds. Consider that done, but you'll need some stuff to engage the thing (minerals).

5) Ship hulls are a big issue. I tweaked 1 unpopular to be a bit more versatile and cheaper (the galleon), while I added another fighter instead of the useless small freighter. AFAIK, there's no situation where your race starts with a small freighter, so that should work. Think of it as a pocket BB, smaller, cheaper, slightly more versatile, but coming after BB tech. I also tried to spread fighter hulls a lot more over the tech tree, in order to lenghten periods, where a certain vessel rules the battlefield. Nubs will now be able to carry limited amounts of bombs / mining robots if needed, using a few combo slots.

When Stuart Douglas set up his own mod, one of the players involved suggested to reverse hull initiative, making the weakest hulls firing 1st, the strongest firing last in general. I liked that idea and included it. The numbers may or may not change a bit in v1.0. The idea goes well with my imagination of small ships being quicker and more maneuvreable than big ones. Other than that I tried to stay away from the PRT related ones, but there's a small change in WMs DN base armor.

6) Terraforming happens later in the tech tree now, and TT at higher bio (+con needed for the best levels), hopefully taking away some of CAs power that comes from there. Hope it is enough to increase CAs played in pbems again. TT also has a bit lower resource cost now, helping non-CAs and -f races a bit more. There's little TF left at low tech.

7) Remote mining is more effective = attractive now. The robots eff was increased by about 20-25%, that should be enough to see more non-OBRM designs out there. Maybe the increase I made was too big - if so, I'll tweak that once more results come in.

8) One of the good ideas I didn't include, was copying the cap missile concept to armor parts. Some light ones for ships, some very hevy and tough ones for bases. The number of std armor in the game seemed to low in my eyes to do the things I had in mind there. Maybe I'll change my mind and include that later.

9) Mine layers got changes in both weight of the robots and eff, esp the speed traps are now lighter, while heavies are - guess... ;-)

10) Orbital items: I already pointed out that even IT gates are not unlimited in weight any more. Testing will show if I got the new ranges into a useful position. Check the VML-mod for details. Starting a PP revival seems difficult from my POV. Still, I tried to make the exclusive throwers look more tempting (other - lower - tech levels needed, cheaper).

11) Range0 beams are hardly being used in the original version. Since my starbase concept needed a way to get rid of simple chaff attacks, I replaced the r0 beamers with low power, high weight r8 gatlings (base exclusive chaff shredders, say). I'm quite sure I messed their power along with that range (hints welcome here), the idea here is the 1st one being able to cut through a lot of scout chaff, the 2nd just managing FFs. The 3rd will be WM only and also take kind of DD chaff, to counter a little for that lack of minefields. I'm yet to testbed that decently.

Ok, if you managed to read all that stuff until here, you made it, you're really interested in modding Stars! Ofc there's some things included which I didn't mention here... Mail me, play the mod and see if you love it or hate it!

You can download VML-mod v0.9 (still a beta version, since it still needs a

lot of balancing) including this introduction and a (soon to come) "list-of-changes" .txt-file as soon as I found a webmaster willing to host it on his page, meanwhile you need to mail me for a copy (size:42KB). Any reactions / testers welcome ofc. Please send your feedback to verker@home.antispam.pages.at while removing the obvious part of the address. I'll be running a test pbem with my mod shortly if reactions are positive: just mail me or post here, if you're interested to take part in that one, or host your own (just remember playing it at AH won't work at the moment, since AH is using the original unmodded Stars!.exe, naturally).


-- Dieter ¦¦¬] -- alias "Verker" on various NGs. Delete "antispam." in my address to reply.

-- "Ugh! Macs, I figured people who use mac's by choice must get overwhelmed -- by the number of choices on a 2 button mouse so mac's always come with -- one button mouses." Blake Walsh posting on rec.games.computer.stars

end of appendix---------------------------------------