The following methods deal with modifying or manipulating the Stars! game files. With the exception of StarsEd, they are usually used for creating unique starting conditions for gameplay. Defining rules to direct race creation or gameplay can result in significant differences to the style and feel of a game, and are not mutually exclusive with the methods described here. See Game styles#Variations & themes for games which have been modified in this manner.
The methods described here are not suitable for inexperienced hosts.
Often used in conjuntion with remapping, pre-genning is forcing the generation of a large number of turns. The process often involves the host controlling the player races for a number of turns to create the desired starting conditions. A host race may be used to create ships for moving populations or minerals required by the start. There are a couple of issues that must be dealt with during the pre-gen process:
- If the start requires researching by any race(including host race) then any SS races will gain a tech advantage. Because of this SS races are sometimes banned from pre-genned games.
- If each races starting population and surface mineral amounts are to be preserved, the excess growth and mined minerals need to be removed. This is usually done by loading them onto host created(and transferred) ships and then deleting the ships. There is no way to preseve mineral concentrations.
- Comet Strikes on homeworlds can seriously skew a race's development so need to be monitored, or if monitorin is infeasible Random Events turned off.
Games which have used pre-genning include:
AFON start games
XDude's Afon start games have each player starting without HW's, approx 1 million colonists and lots of minerals loaded into 10 SFX, 40 Privateers, and 40 Large Freighters. Players also start with at least Prop & Con 8. SS races were not banned.
Jump start games do not usually involve any host controlling of races, but rather just the pre-genning of many turns - often 50 to 100 turns. Sometimes the first few turns may be played; if so, an oft recommended strategy is to select the Generalised research LTR and set research to Weapons tech.
Zero cost setup
A special case of pre-genning, this involves using StarEd to change the cost of the ships/components you need to use to zero, creating the ships/starbases etc and then continuing the game with a normal version of Stars!. The two major benefits of this is the lack of a need to generate multiple years to gain the tech(and resources) required and the ability to create ships with PRT-specific components from multiple PRTs.
The catch to this is that any parts that you will eventually be able to build will be removed from the designs(I'm unsure what happens to hulls) when you switch to an un-hacked Stars!. To avoid this check, transfer the ships to another player or restrict yourself to using PRT-specific parts from a differ PRT.
- zerohack.stm: "All items at zero tech and zero cost except for the cost of planetary installations and terraforming. Mass has not been changed."
- observer.stm: "Elephant scanner and nub hull are available at no tech, mineral or resource cost. They can be build in 2400."
Open StarEd, pick the .exe you want to mod, load the .stm file (you can make more changes if you like) and save the .exe ...
HST/M file editing
HST editing for MT parts or tech levels can be done here. Also, Wumpus is willing to do editing for others to make possible interesting game setups. Changes to the hst file propagate to the relevant m files when a tiurn is generated, but it should be noted that you may need to remove the "old" .m file before generating as stars does not like the inconsistencies with multiple-turn m files. At least two games have taken advantage of his offer:
Bidding for techs
During the setup stage of Bidding for techs (thread at HWF), players bid for the technology levels they wished to start with and once the bidding was completed the HST file was edited to give each player the tech level they had won.
The game Pirates! (thread at HWF) required the Host player(Pirate Controller - PC) to take over the HW's of the 10 pirate players and be at max tech before the game proper began. Using HST editing this was achieved at 2400. In addition, editing allowed all 11 PC planets to start with full population, mines, factories and defences and a fully armed Deathstar with inf/inf gate and W13 drivers. It also gave the PC access to all of the MT parts and allowed Random Events to remain enabled which would have been a game ruiner with pre-genning.
- Version: 1.2
- Full article
By Stuart Douglas, StarsEd, an Editor for Stars! allows almost all component and hull(ship or starbase) information to be changed. StarsEd alters stars.exe so be sure to make a backup first. Changes may also be saved in STM files(MOD files in v1.0/1.1). With StarsEd you can alter the technology, mineral and/or resource requirements, the ranges of scanners, stargates and weapons, the effectiveness and rates for mining robots, bombs etc. You can fiddle with unknown attributes! For ship and starbase hulls you can also:
- alter the hull layout and possible components
- alter the category(freighter/bomber/escort/capital - 8 possible categories), fuel, armor, initiative and cargo(its a component slot!)
- include combo slots that allows any component except engines (vs the general purpose slot that also doesn't allow mining robots or bombs)
- alter MT items
Any changes you make also appear in the technology browser.
- change the images of components or hulls, but you can swap them around.
- change the abilities of PRTs, LRTs or special ability components(jump gate,orbital adjuster etc)
- change the splash screen or interface
- removeor change the copy protection mechanism or turn file encryptions.
StarsEd and Autohost/unedited stars.exe
Because StarsEd modifies stars.exe and no standardised modification exists, Ron Miller refuses to host games modified with StarsEd. This doesn't mean you can't have your StarsEd games hosted on autohost, merely that when you start using autohost all components and hulls will revert back to thier original values with some interesting effects. Any items that merely had thier technology dropped will be removed from thier designs if the race will later be able to build it. (It will be a normal game once it is hosted at autohost.)
- Version: 1.3b
- PRT balancing (eg IT gates not as strong, PP throwers stronger, modified TF cuts CA strengths etc.)
- starbase exclusive items like cap missiles, cannons, armor
- chaff shredder weapons
- slightly modified shipline, including a PB hull (pocket battleship), revised Nubian, Galleon and Dreadnought and a new MT hull
- modified pictures for the shipline, using images from SSNG
- revised genesis device
- Version: 3.10
- Website (in polish)
This is a Polish mod which replaces all component slots with general purpose slots except mining robot, mine layer and bomb slots which are replaced with combo slots. Available for Stars2.7jrc3 only(though you could use StarsEd to make a STM to convert 2.6jrc3).