starlanes

STARLANES(6)                      Games Manual                      STARLANES(6)



NAME
       starlanes - the game of starlanes

SYNOPSIS
       starlanes [-v|c|m]

DESCRIPTION
       Starlanes is a game of interstellar commerce for 1 to 4 players.  Players
       take two-phase turns: the first phase is movement, the second is trading.

       The object of the game is to become as wealthy as possible by trading and
       merging companies whilst out-smarting your friends and enemies.

OPTIONS
       -v   Print version information

       -c   Force the game to play in color mode

       -m   Force the game to play in mono mode

PLAYING STARLANES
   The Starlanes User Interface
       Starlanes is written using color ncurses, but will detect a black and
       white screen and will modify its output accordingly.  On Linux, setting
       TERM=console or TERM=linux either on a virtual console or in a
       color_xterm window works well.

       After the initial player determination screen, you will be presented with
       the main Starlanes screen.  This screen is split into three individual
       windows: the map window, the company window, and the general info window.

       The map window shows the terrain of the universe.  The legend is:

              * - Star
              @ - Black hole
              + - Infant company
              . - Empty space
              A - Company A (Altair Starways)

       The companies are Altair Starways, Beetlejuice Ltd., Capella Freight Co.,
       Denebola Shippers, and Eridani Expediters.  On the map, the companies are
       represented by the first letter of their name.

       The company window shows information concerning the currently existing
       companies, including the company name, its price per share, and the
       current player's holdings.

       The general info window will prompt the user for input if the player is
       waiting to move or trade, but will also display special announcements as
       they come up.  During a player's turn, that player's name is displayed in
       the title bar of the window, along with his cash holdings.

       Also, mention should be made of two other windows: the player standings
       window and the company detail window (not to be confused with the company
       info window.)

       The player standings window can be brought up during the player's move by
       pressing the 's' key.  This window shows all the player's names, stock
       holdings, cash, and total worth, sorted by total worth.  It also shows
       the number of sectors that remain to be filled by companies before the
       game ends.

       The company detail window is invoked with the 'c' key.  It shows, for
       each active company, its name, price per share, size, and total worth
       (all player's shares * price per share).  The company size and total
       worth are useful in determining the result of a merger (see below.)

       If a screen redraw is necessary, pressing '^L' at almost any of the
       prompts will accomplish that.

       Finally, if the players want to quit before the game before is over,
       press 'q' or '^C' and a quit verification window will pop up.  If 'y' is
       pressed, the final game standings will be displayed, and the program will
       end.

   Player Movement
       During the first phase of a player's turn, the computer will prompt for a
       move from a choice of 5.  These moves are chosen randomly (for the most
       part).  Upon making your move, there are several things that might
       happen.  (NOTE: it is important to remember that two objects on the map
       are adjacent only if they are orthogonally adjacent.  Diagonals don't
       count!)

       If you move into a sector that is completely surrounded by empty space
       (.), that sector will then contain an infant company (+).

       If you move next to an existing company (A-E), that company will expand
       into that sector of the map.  If the new extension of the company touches
       an infant company (+), that infant company will also be assimilated.

       Given that you're not moving next to an existing company, if you move
       next to a star (*) or an infant company (+), a new company will be
       formed.  You, as company founder, will receive 5 shares in the company
       for free.  For calculating how much a company will be worth, see Company
       Pricing, below.

       If you happen to move next to a black hole (@), one of many things could
       happen, depending on the circumstances.  See Black Holes, below.

   Company Pricing
       Determining a company's price per share is fairly simple.  Generally
       speaking, a company is worth $100 for every sector it occupies (as given
       on the company info window under ``Size''), plus $500 for every sector it
       occupies which is adjacent to a star (*), minus $500 for every sector it
       occupies which is adjacent to a black hole (@).  If a company's price per
       share drops to 0 or less, the company vanishes (see Black Holes, below.)
       Also note that you will not be able to visually estimate a company's
       price per share if that company has undergone a stock split (see Stock
       Splits, below.)

   Holding Bonus
       Immediately after a player's move, he is awarded a cash bonus equal to 5%
       of the total worth of his complete holdings.  This bonus is awarded even
       if the game ends directly following the move (see Game's End, below.)
       This is the cash that the player will then use during the trading phase
       (see Trading, below.)

   Trading
       If any companies exist after a player moves on the map, that player will
       be given the chance to buy and sell stock.  This is where the game is
       really played.  One must determine which companies are going to earn the
       highest profits in the next round and invest in those companies more
       heavily than ones that only have a small chance of turning a profit.
       (See Strategy, below.)  The current player's cash value is printed next
       to his name in the general info window title.

       Use the arrow keys to select a company you wish to trade stock in, then
       press return.  You will be asked for an amount to trade.  Enter the
       number of shares you wish to purchase in this company.  (Just press
       return again or enter ``0'' if you don't really want to trade with this
       company.)  Choose a negative amount if you want to sell shares (at 100%
       of their value.)  At this point, the user can also press the 'm' key to
       purchase the maximum number of shares possible, or press the 'n' key to
       sell all of his holdings in this company.

       Once the player has completed trading, he can press escape to end his
       turn, thereby transferring control to the next player.

   Mergers
       When a player chooses a sector of the map that would cause two or more
       companies to touch, a merger occurs.

       First, the companies sizes are checked and the company with the larger
       size absorbs the smaller.

       If the companies are the same size, the company with the highest total
       worth absorbs the smaller.  (The user can view company size and company
       total worth on the company detail window, see above.)

       Finally, if both company sizes and total worths match, the companies will
       merge at random.

       If a three or four-way merger occurs, the merges will take place one at a
       time, in an order that is somewhat clockwise.

       After a merger, each player will have half the number of shares of held
       in the vanquished company added to the number of shares held in the
       still-existing company.  The value of the still-existing company's price
       per share will increase by the vanquished company's price per share.

       Additionally, each player receives a cash bonus equal to

              10 * stock price * holdings percentage,

       where stock price is the old price per share of the vanquished company
       and holdings percentage is the percentage of total stock once owned in
       the vanquished company.  For example, imagine that Altair Starways (worth
       $500 per share) is merged into Denebola Shippers.  Also, assume that the
       player owned 50% of the total shares in Altair Starways.  Using the
       formula, that player would receive a bonus of

              10 * $500 * 50% = $2,500.

       For more hints on how to deal with mergers, see Strategy, below.

   Stock Splits
       When a company's price per share climbs above $3,000, a stock split
       occurs.  All player holdings in that company are doubled, and the price
       per share is halved.  See Strategy, below, for money making tips during
       and after stock splits.

   Black Holes
       Since black holes drain $500 from any company that is in contact with
       them, it is possible that the company's price per share will drop to 0 or
       less.  If this happens, the entire company is sucked out of space and all
       player holdings are lost.

       If a player attempts to place an infant company (+) near a black hole
       (@), that infant company will be immediately sucked up, resulting again
       in an empty sector.

       Likewise, if a player attempts to start a new company that would normally
       be worth $500 or less per share next to a black hole, the sectors that
       the new company would have occupied all become empty space (.).

       For some ways to make black holes work to your advantage, see Strategy,
       below.

   Game's End
       The game ends when 54% of the map is filled with companies (about 70
       sectors.)  The player who made the final move receives his 5% holdings
       bonus (see Holding Bonus, above) and the final standings window is
       displayed.  The player with the highest total worth is the winner.

   Strategy
       In order to maximize your profits, you must wisely invent your cash.  For
       instance, if a company is near a black hole, it is likely that it will
       lose $500 per share in the next few rounds.  Likewise, if a company is
       near a star, it might soon have a $500 gain.

       Also, the larger the company, the greater that chance that it will be
       added onto (just because it takes up more room on the map.)  If you own
       300 shares in a company, and its value goes up by $100 per share, that's
       a $30,000 increase in your net worth.

       Another thing to watch for is when companies are about to merge.
       Remember that the number of shares you own in the smaller company will be
       halved before being added to the bigger one when they merge.  This can be
       used to your advantage, especially if the smaller company is worth
       significantly less than the larger.  If the big company is worth $2,000
       per share, and the small is worth $200 per share, you can buy 10 times as
       many shares in the smaller.  When the companies merge, the number of
       shares in the smaller company is halved, but it's still 5 times the
       amount of stock you could've purchased in the larger company.

       Don't forget that when two companies merge, the players receive a cash
       bonus that depends on the percentage of stock they owned in the smaller
       company (see Mergers, above.)  It is good to try to own a higher
       percentage than anyone else.

       A way to gain profit earning potential is to have a large number of
       shares in a company when the stock splits two-for-one (see Stock Splits,
       above.)  Even though your initial net worth remains the same after a
       stock split, you'll now increase your net worth by twice the value you
       used to whenever the company's price per share rises.  Also, if your
       opponent has 100 shares and you have 150 before the split, that'll change
       to 200 shares and 300 shares, effectively increasing your lead in shares
       by 100%.

       Black holes weren't present in the original game, but were added to give
       players who have fallen behind a chance to shaft the leaders.  If your
       opponent owns 100 shares of Altair Starways and you only own 50, you can
       extend the company against a black hole.  Your opponent will lose $50,000
       from his net worth, but you'll only lose $25,000.

       Finally, a reminder to invest as much money as you possible can each
       round (unless it's too risky.)  The reason for this is the 5% cash bonus
       all players receive each round based on their holdings (see Holdings
       Bonus, above.)  Your cash earns you no interest.

FILES
       /usr/local/games/starlanes
       /usr/local/man/man6/starlanes.6

AUTHOR
       This version of Starlanes was written and is Copyright (C) by Brian
       ``Beej'' Hall 1995-1997.  The author can be reached at
       beej@ecst.csuchico.edu.  Starlanes comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
       This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under
       certain conditions; read the file COPYING for details.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
       I'd like to thank the unnamed authors of the original Starlanes for
       creating such a thought provoking and fun to play text-based game.  I got
       my first copy on a First Osborne Group (FOG) disk in what must have been
       1982 or so, and used to spend endless hours playing against my friends.
       For us, the game is just as fun as ever.  To the original authors, I
       salute you!

BUGS
       There are no computer controlled players.

       Doesn't respond if ^Z is pressed to suspend the game.

       If only one person is playing, he or she will frequently make enough
       money to break the fixed-field-length windows and/or cause the variable
       that holds player cash to overflow.  Try to keep your earnings under $2
       billion until I convert these variables to long doubles.  :-)



Starlanes V1.2.2                  29 March 1996                     STARLANES(6)