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October 13, 1996

Stars! V2.6b contains a set of bug fixes which have come from reports from
players like you as well as extensive additional internal testing.  There
are no new features in this release, this release is being made strictly
to solve the problems players are running into.

As I said in the release notes for V2.6a, I would have rather waited to
release that build for a few more weeks, but I wanted to keep my word and
release it as soon as I had solved the bug that hung a few player's
machines during turn generation.  Despite the talk about new bugs being
introduced with new versions, suprisingly enough more than half of the fixes
in this release have been in Stars! since BEFORE V2.6, many going back to
V2.0 and before.  What this means is that we're seeing an explosion in the
number of people playing Stars! and that number is now three or four orders
of magnitude greater than our team of testers and beta players.

I am pretty certain that this will be the last Stars! release in the 2.6
series, but I will continue to look at bug reports and if a bug warrants
a V2.60c, I will do it, but you can be sure that it will only be a bug fix
release, not a feature relase.

Please send me feedback at if you have any questions or
run across any bugs.

-- Jeff Johnson

Changes from V2.60a to V2.60b:

Fixed bug which causes IT races with RRS engines to kill colonists using
   stargates off.
Fixed bug which caused the damage done by incoming packet to the IT race to
   be incorrectly computed.
Fixed cloaking bug which caused all cloaking electrical parts to act as
   50% cloaks instead of their proper values.
Fixed bug which allowed the transport cloak to be placed on the Galleon
Fixed NT crash when orphaned starbases made it to player data files.
The patrol task now pays better attention to your battle plan in deciding
   whether or not to target enemy fleets.
Fixed battle bug where fleeing ships would sometimes charge the enemy fleet.
Fixed battle bug where ships could go running off the battle board.
Fixed battle bug where fleets with Chicken orders would initiate a battle
   even against players marked as friends.
Fixed problems with the maximize net damage battle tactic.
Fixed battle problems with invincible ships that appear to be 100% damaged.
Fixed battle bug where ships would fail to close in on their targets
   occasionally when out of range.
Fixed bug in the battle plans dialog which could cause the who to attack
   dropdown to use the item above the one selected by the player.
Fixed the delete command in the battle plans dialog to properly update
   remaining plans.
Pressing Escape to dismiss the design sheet from the fleet composition
   dialog no longer disables clicking in the mineral summary.
Fixed Packet Physics bug where flinging large packets at worlds when you
   had no terraforming abilities whatsoever could cause corrupt game files.
Fixed message about ram scoops producing fuel to peg and not go negative for
   huge fleets.
Fixed the Help button from the score dialog to link correctly to help topic.
The n turns loaded alert is no longer shown when generating turns with
   inactive player.
Packet Physics races as of V2.60a can sense ALL mineral packets in the
   universe regardless of whether they are in their scanner coverage or not.
Improved dynamic updates of the fleet report when merging fleets.
Fixed hang in report window when two items had identical primary and
   secondary sorting characteristics.
Refined battle plans:  Maximize Damage Ratio, Maximize Net Damage, and
   Maximize Damage.
   a) Maximize Damage Ratio attempts to 1) Get in range of at least one
      ship of the target class with at least one of your ship's weapons
      then 2) Move in such a way to always do some damage while
      maximizing (Damage Done / Damage Taken).
   b) Maximize Net Damage attemps to 1) Get in range of at least one ship
      of the target class with ALL of your ship's weapons then 2) Move in
      such a way to always do some damage while maximizing
      (Damage Done / Damage Taken).
   c) Maximize Damage now attempts to 1) Get in range of at least one ship
      of the target class with ALL of your ship's weapons then 2) Moves
      to the square where it can dish out the most damage.
   Note that all three have an overriding constraint of getting to a place
   where they can do some damage.  This means that even if the score would
   be better to stay out of range and not be able to shoot, that place will
   not be considered.  Also note that a) will not necessarily close to
   the "best" square if there is a large differential in weapons systems
   on the ship.  For example if you design a Cruiser with a Range 6 missile
   and a Range 2 beam weapon, odds are you will never close beyond Range 6
   during the battle.  This is a plus when the short range weapon is used
   strictly as a deterent against fast ships trying to get in close to you
   and destroy you with close range weapons.  If you indeed want to close
   and bring all weapons to bear, choosing b) or c) will ensure you will
   try to do just that.


September 26, 1996

Stars! V2.6a contains a number of changes and improvements, as well as bug
fixes which have come from feedback from players.  Stars! is continually
being improved, and this release should solidify a number of loose ends that
the previous versions have made apparent.

So why release now?  If I had my druthers, I'd rather wait another month or
so and make sure there aren't any more important bugs lurking out there.
However, doing that means that people currently playing games have to work
around existing bugs, I have to spend a lot of time answering mail with,
"Yes, I know that's broken, it'll be fixed in the next release", and most
importantly, I have told numerous people that as soon as I thought I had
a fix to the turn generation hanging bug I would post the patch immediately.

As of 4 hours ago, I got confirmation from 4 people who were experiencing
hangs that this patch solves their problems.  While this is far from proof
that the fix will solve everybody's problems, I feel it's important enough
to get this patch out.

In addition to the bug fixes outlined below I have totally gutted and
rewritten the battle engine.  The engine is what determines how tactics
are carried out, how ships fire, who they fire at, and where they move
to.  It doesn't change any of the available tactics, or the VCR display.

What's involved in the battle engine?  I've tried to make ships move in
smart ways.  Now when a ship considers where to move, it takes into account
how fast the enemy ship is, who will get the last move, what range the
enemy's weapons are and how much damage they will do.  When weapons are
fired, they are fired at the targets that will cost the enemy the most. This
is done by calculating the amount of damage that can be done and dividing
it by the sum of resources and boranium require to build the ship, which
corresponds nicely with how near and dear the ship is to the owner.

Does this mean that battle is now nirvana?  No way.  Ships will still make
occasional blunders.  However, you should be able to look at the battle in
the VCR and understand why the ship's captain may have done what he decided
to do.  The price to pay for this new accurate model, is speed.  Turn
generation when there are complex battles can take twice as long as it
did in previous version.  I am working on speed optimizations, but they
were not ready at the time I fixed the turn generation hang.

People write me frequently wanting to know what will be in the next version.
Will there be a Stars! V2.7, V2.8, etc?  When will V3.0 be out?

The answer is this:  There will be no major features added before version
3.0 comes out.  V3.0 is at least a year away.  There may well be a V2.60b
if additional bugs or imbalances are discovered.  That release will consist
only of bug fixes and perhaps some play balances if things are drastically
out of whack.  Will there be a V2.7?  The only way that would happen is if
we decided to do a boxed version of Stars! for distribution in stores and
added all the trappings that sell commercial games, but don't really add to
the strategic play value (soundtrack, sound effects, slicker graphics, etc).

The updated help file is not yet ready for V2.6a, but will be placed on
the web site when it is finished.

Please set me feedback at if you have any questions or
run across any bugs.

-- Jeff Johnson

Changes from V2.6 to V2.60a:

Bug Fixes:

Fixed the turn generation hanging bug that affected a small number of
   computers.  Hangs were related to the use of ship cloaks.
Fixed a mineral concentration bug which could cause many planets in the
   galaxy to randomly start out as homeworlds.
Fixed a hanging bug when the Alternate Reality race attempted to build
   a planetary scanner.
Fixed bug which caused Super Stealth races to get all spying proceeds
   dumped in their current field of research instead of the proper field
   reported in the message sent them.
Fixed bug which caused the Goto button for the Retro Bombing message to
   link to wierd places.
Removed Super Stealth ability to get multiple tech from battles and
   scrappings and fixed bug which could cause players to get excess tech
   when scrapping ships.
Fixed the bug which allows colonists to be given to IT players by using
   their stargates.
Fixed the goto button to do a better job when the message pertains to a
   mine field incident.

Play Balancing:
The Jack of All Trades races now possess built-in scanners on their Scouts,
   Frigates, and Destroyes with a range equal to 2x / x l.y. where
   x = 10 * Electronics Tech level.
Shield Sapper weapons now have a range of 3.
Shield Sapper weapons can no longer sweep mine fields.
The Trans-Galactic Mizer scoop is now available as long as you don't
   check the No Ramscoops LRT.  It is now a Warp-10 capable engine.
The LRT of Improved Fuel Efficiency now also increases your starting tech
   in propulsion by one level.
Decreased the mining rate of the Robo-Mini-Miner to a max of 4kT per year.
   This should make the Only Basic Remote Mining LRT less of an
   automatic choice.
Super Stealth race ships AND starbases now have built-in 75% cloaking.
The Ultra Cloak now cloaks at 85% and the Transport Cloak cloaks at 75%.
Gattling weapons now have a range of 2 and do not decay over distance.
Torpedo cost has be shuffled to use less boranium and more ironium.
Torpedo power has been readjusted to reflect the new battle model.
Capital ship missiles do twice as much damage to unshielded targets.
All weapons can now stream damage freely from square to square.
Massively overpopulating planets no long continues to give extra resources
   after you exceed the maximum population by a factor of 3.
Carbonic and Organic armor now require 1/2 as much Germanium to build.
Planetary defenses now cost only 15 resources per defense to build,
   9 resources for inner strength players.
Interstellar Traveller's mass drivers are only half as effective at catching
   minerals as their rating, are less efficient at flinging minerals, and
   all mineral packets flung decay, regardless of speed.
Mass Driver 7 and Ultra Driver 10 now cost twice as much to build.
Mine laying pods and mine laying hulls specific to the Space Demolition
   race have been reduced in cost and weight.
The Claim Adjuster race no longer can build the Ultra Driver 12.
Claim Adjuster mineral packets no longer have terraforming effects.
Packet Physics packets now terraform planets with the same odds as the
   Claim Adjusters used to be able to.
Claim Adjuster packets do the same amount of damage as every other race
   on impact now.
Claim Adjuster now have a 10% chance of permanently improving each owned
   planet's environment by 1% each year if the population is at least
   100,000 colonists (lower population have a proportionally lower chance
   of this happening).
Whenever a Claim Adjuster abandons a planet (either voluntarily or
   involuntarily) the environment will revert to the underlying "natural"
Generalized research now applies 50% to the primary field and 15% to each
   of the other fields.
Ships in space are no longer allowed to jettison cargo if a mineral packet
   or battle salvage is at that location.
Space Demolition race have figured out an economy setting to detonating
   mine fields which only requires expending 1/4 of the mines in the field.
   Mine fields set to detonate will continue to do so each year until
   the field is finally depopulated.
The Mine Layer and Super Mine Layer hulls are not damaged by detonating
   mine fields controled by their owner.
Detonated mine fields which overlap can only damage a fleet once.  That is,
   a fleet in 5 overlapping mine fields which are detonated only gets hit
Space Demolition race mine layers can lay mines the year they reach their
   destination.  However, the number laid the first year is half their
   normal laying rate.

New Features:

Redid the battle engine.  Battle plans and ship movement are much more
   intelligent now.  Weapon firing and streaming now greatly discourage
   multiple token attacks.
The message informing you that a starbase will complete it's production
   queue next year will no longer be sent to planets with just orbital forts.
The Progress=1 line in the [Misc] section of stars.ini now will cause a
   progress gauge to appear even when generating from host mode.
Added 2 new columns to the battle report:  Our ships left and Their ships
   left, which indicate how many ships survived the battle.
The mineral popup window for planets you are remote mining now shows the
   expected amount to be mined next year.
Auto Terraforming no longer appears in the Claim Adjuster production
   queue list.
The message the Claim Adjuster gets when finding a new planet displays
   the planet value they can auto terraform it to.
Fleets doing mine sweeping pay attention to their battle plan in determining
   whether or not to sweep a minefield.  Starbases still sweep all
   non-friendly mine fields.


September 9, 1996

Stars! V2.6 is the result of a number of games I have recently been
involved in.  I have added a number of features I found myself really
wanting either for additional information or to reduce tedious management
tasks.  Along the way I have also fixed a number of bugs and introduced some
cool new twists to the game.

Current V2.5 and V2.5a game can be upgraded to V2.6 in progress.  The way
this needs to be done is that every player takes their turn with their old
V2.5 .exe, then the host upgrades to V2.6 and generates a new turn.  Then
the players open the new turn with V2.6.  Once you upgrade, you cannot go
back to V2.5.  All players must upgrade to V2.6 simultaneously.  If you do
not follow these upgrade directions, unpredictable things may happen.

Unfortunately, one thing I hoped to do was fix a hang in turn generation that
has plauged a handful of users.  None of our 100+ beta testers has this
problem and the files people have sent me invariably have not reproduced the
hang.  The current thinking is that the bug is either system or video
driver related.  I really want to fix this bug, and will be putting out a
V2.6a as soon as someone gives me the missing puzzle piece to track the
bug down.  If your machine exihibits this behavior, add the Progress=1 line
to the [Misc] section of your Stars.ini file in your windows directory.
This will cause a digital status count to appear in the progress gauge,
allowing you to report the last updated number before a hang.  If you send
this information to me at, I will be more than happy to
build a special build to home in on the problem on your machine.

Let me know if you like the changes, what you find useful, what races you
find most powerful, etc.  We like to get feedback from you.  It's what
allows me to make Stars! a better game.

-- Jeff Johnson

Changes from V2.5a to V2.6:

New Features:
You can now give other players your ships.  Pick the Transfer Fleet task
   and the other player gets your fleet assuming they have enough free design
   slots in their ship builder.  You can't build designs you get from other
   players unless you have all the necessary techs.
Mineral packets now display their destination to all players.
Packets targeting your worlds now send you a warning message if your scanners
   spot them in time.
The race creation wizard now lets players specify the plural form of their
   race name.
The race creation wizard now asks you to verify your password before saving
   the race file.
The fleet composition listbox now displays damage by using a red bar
   background to indicate the total amount of damage.  Exact damage percent
   is still available by clicking on the design and viewing the popup with
   resolutions >= 800x600.
Added an enemy fleet report which allows easy access to enemy intelligence.
   Report can be sorted by any of the fields.  Enemy ships can be scrolled
   through in sort order by using the '[' and ']' keys while the report is
Players are now sent a message the year BEFORE a starbase totally finishes
   everything in its production queue.
Added a scanner mode that displays the count of ships at every location above
   the fleet symbol.  The number takes into account any filters you currently
   have active.  For example, if you have a filter to only show enemy
   warships, only fleets containing warships will be visible, and the count
   above those fleets will be the count of just the warships, not the
   total number in the fleet.  A toolbar button to turn this mode on and off
   has been added as well. The keyboard shortcut for the mode is Shift-0 or
Added File / Print Map option which prints a universe map to a given size.
   Takes into account whether planet names is turned on and whether you've
   selected No Visible Info setting or not.
The mine field toolbar button now pops up a menu allowing you to specify
   by player relation which mine fields you wish to view:  Yours, Friends,
   Neutrals, and/or Enemies.  The button will only appear down if the scanner
   is showing all known minefields.
A history graph has been added to the report dialog.  The Switch button now
   cycles from the Score report to the Victory Conditions report to the
   new history graph.  The graph show up to the last 100 years of data
   for each of the items in the score dialog.  You will only see your own
   data if Public Player Scores is not turned on.  Click on the blue diamond
   in the upper left of the dialog to change from graph to graph.  Score
   history information is saved in your history file (game.h#), so if you
   delete it, you will lose any score information you have accumulated.
Super Stealth players are more likely to learn tech from battles and may
   learn multiple things in a single year.
Changed minerals on home worlds to decrease as normal, but planetary mining
   (as opposed to remote mining) on home worlds will use a concentration of
   max(30, indicated conc).
The Claim Adjuster race now terraforms for FREE.  Every year all planets are
   automatically terraformed to the best your race is capable of.
Claim Adjuster Orbital Adjuster now always work when orbiting an occupied
   planet.  If the planet is owned by a friend, you will terraform the planet
   to their specifications, otherwise you will do your best to ruin the
   planet.  Destructive terraforming will not work on planets with a
   starbase in orbit.  The Remote Terraforming task has been removed.
Added a Battle Summary report as well as a message indicating the total
   number of battles you've been sent each year.  This message allows you to
   filter out all the other messages and just use the summary message to
   take you to the report to view all the battles.  The report has columns
   for the battle Location, Starbase Involved (O = ours, T = theirs), number
   of sides involved in the battle, total number of units, number of our
   units and their units.  Number of unarmed, scout, warship, bomber, and
   utility ships involved, the number of our ships that died, and the number
   of theirs that died.  Clicking on a battle selects the battle site in the
   scanner.  Clicking again brings up the battle VCR for that battle.
Added Player Colors to the View menu.  When turned on, both planet names and
   the fleet count numbers will be colored to reflect the player that owns
   them.  The color used is the same as the color that represents the player
   in the History Report.
The ship builder displays the enemy cloaking effectiveness when a ship
   has Tachyon detectors on the scanner info line.  Cloaking effectiveness is
   now calculated when more than one detector is on a design by the following
   formula:  95% ^ (sqrt(# of detectors)).
Report sorting is now 2 level stable.  That is, if you sort by field a,
   then sort by field b.  This will be in order by field b, then be sorted by
   field a for blocks of identical b's.

Added an ini variable 'Progress' if set to 1 will display the turn gen
   progress as a number in the progress gauge.  This line goes in the
   [misc] section.

Universes may now be created from the command line:

stars.exe -a game.def

The game.def file has the following format:
Game Name
Universe size (0-4) Density (0-3) Starting Distance (0-3)
Maximum minerals (0/1) Slow Tech (0/1) BBS Play (0/1) ... (other checkboxes)
Number of players, only humans allowed (1-16)
VC # of planets (0/1) Percent of planets (20-100)
VC Tech (0/1) Level (8-26) Fields (2-6)
VC Score (0/1) Score (1000-20000)
VC Exceeds nearest (0/1) Percent (20-300)
VC Production (0/1) Capacity (10-500)
VC Capital Ships (0/1) Number (10-300)
VC Turns (0/1) Years (30-900)
VC Must meet (0-7) Minimum Years (30-500)
New universe file name

The following is a sample game.def:

Tour of Duty
3 2 2
0 0 0 0 1 1 1
1 60
1 26 4
1 150
1 100
2 150

Tweaks and Improvements:
Filtering out a battle message now filters out the related group of battle
Fleets with an even number of fuel transports and other ships now make up
   a default name of the non-fuel transport ship.
You don't get a production queue is empty message now if the auto build
   items haven't finished.
Changed the ultimate recycling message to reflect more accurately the number
   of resources received.
Fleets in the Merge Fleets listbox will now have a '*' after their name if
   the fleet has at least one waypoint.  This makes it easier to select
   all the fleets not doing anything at a location.
We now also display planet names at 75% zoom.
Players are no longer allowed to give colonists to other players.
The 'v' key, which flashes the current selection location now works much
   better on Windows NT systems.
The cost of all planetary scanners is fixed now.  Once you build a scanner,
   it will automatically be upgraded when your research allows you to build
   a better scanner.
Mine fields are now truely 75% cloaked if you haven't seen them before.  If
   a ship can penetrating scan the center of the field, it will see the
If you achieve maximum tech in a field and forget to change fields, the
   lowest remaining field will automatically be selected for you.
Patrol now takes battle plans into account when deciding who to intercept.
   Your primary target will be matched on a HULL basis.  That is, if you
   target Unarmed ships, your fleet will only target fleets guaranteed to
   be unarmed.  You will not target, for example, a battleship, even if
   you've fought it before and know it doesn't have any weapons on board.
Shield sappers only contribute 1/3 as much to a ship's ratings.
Capital ships contribution to score is now calculated as:
   8 * # cap ships * # of planets / (# cap ships + # planets)
Ultimate recycling resources are now not strictly additive.  The number a
   planet gets are determined by the formula:
   (current planetary production * extra resources) /
   (current planetary production + extra resources).
   This formula is true whether a planet has a starbase or not.
Inner Strength fleets will now beam down excess babies if they are orbiting
   a planet they own.
The galaxy scoop will now default to Warp 10 if the distance makes sense.
Rebalanced the cost and power of torpedoes and capital ship missiles.
Hyper-Expansion races can no longer build Stargates of any kind.
Weapons now cost Inner Strength races 25% more (beams, torps and bombs).
Interstellar Travellers may now transport minerals and colonists in fleets
   through stargates.  Their weight doesn't count to the gate's limits.
Cost to build a factory is now 4kT of Germanium (no other minerals).  The
   race wizard 'Costs one less' checkbox now reduces the cost to 3kT of
   Germanium per factory.
Each player's home world's mineral concentrations will never drop below 30.
   Even if the player loses their home world, it will still retain this
Super Stealth races now gain research from spying and combining it with
   their own research.  They gain resouces in each field equal to half the
   average spent in that field by all races (including themselves) as long
   as at least one other race is in existance.

Bug Fixes:
Fixed bug in research dialog when you clicked on a new research field and
   dragged off, not selecting it, then clicked in the future research group
   box, it would appear to change the field anyway.
VCR now displays shots where all torps miss correctly.
Fixed bug where two planets could end up being named 007.
Fixed messages you receive when scrapping fleets at other player's planets.
Fixed bug which caused multiple salvage packets at a location and caused
   packets created by mine field detonations to occur at the wrong location.
Fixed the battle bug where a shot does negative damage.
Fixed the battle bug where tokens would lose accumulated damage.
Fixed a variety of battle bugs.

This article is a copy of official release notes originally included with a Stars! patch or full release from Crisium and should not be edited.