Astrowar: Conquer the Universe by E-mail
Size 244kb, downloads 478.
I wrote Astrowar in the mid-nineties, originally for my Fidonet bulletin board. It's a Play By Mail game, meaning you, well, play it by mail (email in this case). It was a fun little game to play, but I never got around to writing the expansions I intended. I'd like to play with it again some day. In the mean time you can get it from here, starting with an extract from the manual to tell you more about the game.
Astrowar is a play-by-email game of space conquest. What's so special about this particular game? From the player's view, it's simple and fun. From the game moderator or sysop's view, it's fully automatic, adaptable, expandable, portable and free! Bear with me while I justify some of these claims...
- It's simple: The rules and construction of this game are as simple as I could make them. There is just one type of planet, and one type of ship. Each planet just has a single statistic: production, which decides how many ships it produces each turn. Ships are just single faceless, nameless units which are used in greater or lesser numbers in order to overwhelm, hold back or discourage an enemy.
- It's fun: How can I justify this? Well, I can't really since it's just my opinion, but most of the players in the beta test games find it quite entertaining. Its simplicity means that you won't spend much time learning the rules, and you'll be playing properly and developing your strategies almost immediately. It's hardly worth setting up a practice game.
- It's fully automatic: Well, almost anyway. It doesn't install itself or start new games. But once you've installed the program and created one or more games, you don't need to tinker with it at all. You just run the turn processing commands and Astrowar and its associated utilities do all the work. I process my games automatically overnight, so my games are run without me lifting a finger. This level of automation means that you can play in your own games, as long as other players trust you not to examine the data files too closely.
- It's adaptable: You can tinker with the settings of new games before you create them, altering the physical size of the galaxy and the number of planets in it, the speed at which ships move and the maximum distance they can travel in one uninterrupted journey. All of these settings can have an important effect upon game-play. Also, the player interface is external, so players can use whatever interface they find available for the game, be it graphical, email or a BBS-door.
- It's expandable: Such simple game-play positively begs for expansion, and the data files are laid out so that it is reasonably simple to write add-ons to alter game-play. The program also has direct support for disabling such things as production, victory checking and fleet movement, so that these aspects of the game may be replaced externally. A developer's library is available, which means that if you want to write an add-on, half of your work has already been done for you.
- It's portable: Source code distribution allows porting to other platforms by anyone with a mind to do so. Most of the source is in straight ANSI C, and the few non-ANSI constructs employed are easily located and changed. The program is also distributed in executable form. I maintain the 32-bit DOS DPMI version and the Linux version, and others are helping me to port Astrowar and its associated utilities to platforms such as the Amiga.
- It's free: There is no restriction on distribution and use of the binary distributions. Download them and use them for as long as you like, you're welcome to them. The source code is distributed under the GNU GPL, so you can recompile it or change it as you like, as long as your own source is also distributed under the GNU GPL.
Where to get Astrowar
Astrowar is available in source code format only. Click on the link above to download it. The archive contains Astrolib, Astrowar and Astroserv, these being all that's necessary to get a game up and running on a Linux machine.