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<H3><A NAME="s2">2. Game Universe</A></H3>

<H3><A NAME="ss2.1">2.1 Time</A>

<P>Merchant Empires events occur in real time.  The current server time is displayed
on the upper left side of most screens.  Events in the Merchant Empires universe (such as the hourly
granting of player turns) are based upon this clock.

<H3><A NAME="ss2.2">2.2 Races</A>
There are seven intelligent, space-faring races:<br><br>
(1) Human<br>
(2) Kushun<br>
(3) Psilon<br>
(4) Taiidan<br>
(5) Bulrathi<br>
(6) Thevien<br>
(7) Ferenge<br>

<H3><A NAME="ss2.3">2.3 Ports</A>

<P>Ports are the centers of trade in Merchant Empires.

<H3><A NAME="ss2.4">2.4 Ships</A>

<P>Interstellar vessels of trade and warfare are the key components of player interaction
in Merchant Empires.<br><br>

Important ship attributes:
<dt><br><b>Attack/Defense Rating</b></dt>
<dd>Shields are a ship's first layer of defense.  Shields must be entirely
destroyed before armor begins to take damage.<br></dd>

<dd>Each ship type has a total powerplant capacity rated in megawatts (MW).  Powerplants units of one MW can be purchased
from technology dealers.  There are two different ship technology types: Hull specific and Modular.<br><br>

Hull specific technologies (cloaking devices, scanners, illusion generators, and jump drives) can only be purchased
by certain ship types.<br><br>

Modular ship technology can be purchased by any ship type.  Some types of modular ship technology are expandable.  Typically,
the first module of a technology will cost more in MW useage.  Expansion modules increase the power of
a technology.  For example, the initial Deep Space Scanner module uses 25 MWs.  Each module after that uses 15 MWs.  The
additional Scanner modules add one sector to the ship's scanning range.<br><br>

Module Descriptions<br><br>

<table border=1 width=550>
		<td valign=top width=30%>
			Tracking Device			
		<td width=70%>
			Must be locked on a target merchant.  If the merchant moves out of range of the device (2 sectors, not including the current sector), then the device loses the lock.  The device reports the current location of the tracked merchant.  Each additional module (up to 4) extends the range of the scanner by one sector.<br>
		<td valign=top width=30%>
			Deep Space Scanner			
		<td width=70%>
			30 second scan time.  Detects movement in 5 X 5 sector area.  Scanning ship cannot move or be cloaked while scanning.  Higher level merchants can detect a scan attempt and prevent detection.  Each additional module (up to 4) extends the range of the scanner by one sector.<br>
		<td valign=top width=30%>
			Targeting Computer			
		<td width=70%>
			First module increases weapon accuracy by 4 points.  Each additional module adds 2 points.<br>
		<td valign=top width=30%>
			Active Screens			
		<td width=70%>
			Self-recharging defensive screen.  First module provides protection equal to 50 points of damage.  Each additional module adds 25 points.  Active screens recharge at a 25 point per hour rate.<br><br>

			Active screens provide no protection against combat drones or planetary weapons.  It is important to note that damage to screens does not roll over and affect shields.  Thus, a
			if a ship has a 50 point defensive screen and that screen takes 300 points of damage from a single weapon, then the 250 points of roll over damage will not affect the ship's shields.
		<td valign=top width=30%>
			Plasma Booster			
		<td width=70%>
			Add 5 points of damage to all hits.  Each additional module adds 2 points.<br>
		<td valign=top width=30%>
			Tri-Focus Plasma			
		<td width=70%>
			A long range energy weapon that may fire upon enemy ships and forces that are located in neighboring sectors.  The first Tri-Focus
			module adds a 75 shield / 75 armor / 65 accuracy / 1 sector range weapon.  The second module provides an additional 20 damage and extends the range one sector.  The third and fourth module provide an additional 20 damage each.  Each additional module increases the amount of forces that the Tri-Focus destroys.<br>

<dd>Combat drones, scout drones, and mines.
Any one sector may contain only 50 mines, 50 combat drones, and 10 scout drones from each merchant.</dd><br>
<dt><br><b>Cargo capacity</b></dt>
<dd>Many ships have the ability to mount cargo holds.  Each cargo hold can transport a single unit of a good.</dd><br>
<dt><br><b>Hardpoints (Weapon capacity)</b></dt>
<dd>Each hardpoint can mount one weapon.</dd>
<dt><br><b>Turns per sector</b></dt>
<dd>Each ship in Merchant Empires uses a fixed amount of turns to move from sector to sector.  Ships that are larger will use more turns
per sector.  From lowest to highest, the scale of turns per sector:<br><br>
Speed 4 - 4.5<br>
Speed 5 - 4.0<br>
Speed 6 - 3.5<br>
Speed 7 - 3.0<br>
Speed 8 - 2.5<br>
Speed 9 - 2.0<br>
Speed 10 - 1.7<br>
Speed 11 - 1.5<br>
Speed 12 - 1.3</dd>
<dt><br><b>Experience Level</b></dt>
<dd>Certain advanced ship types require a high level of piloting experience.</dd><br><br>

Level 3: Hardpoints = 3 to 4, 160 to 299 cargo golds<br>
Level 5: Cargo holds >= 300<br>
Level 6: Hardpoints = 5<br>
Level 8: Hardpoints >= 6, Combat Drones >= 200
<dt><br><b>Tactical Defense</b></dt>

<dd>The higher a ship's Tactical Defense, the harder it is to hit.  Tactical Defense is a factor of ship speed and size.  It is computed using the following formula:<br>

Tactical Defense =  (4.5 - ship speed * 12) - ((max shields + max armor) / 100) - (((current cargo holds + current forces) * 2) / 100) - (hard points * 3.5)<br><br>

For example, Tactical Defense for the Ambassador:<br>

1. 4.5 (constant) - 2 (ship speed) = 2.5<br>
2. 2.5 x 12 (constant) = 30 (tactical speed)<br><br>

The base tactical speed is then modified by size factors (shields, armor, cargo holds, forces):<br><br>

3. 950 (shields and armor) / 100 = 10<br>
4. 30 (tactical speed) - 10 = 20 (adjusted)<br>
5. 160 (current cargo holds and current forces) * 2 (constant) = 320<br>
6. 320 / 100 = 3<br>
7. 20 - 3 = 17 (adjusted)<br>
8. 1 (hard points) * 3.5 = 3.5<br>
9. 17 - 3.5 = 13 (final TD)<br><br>

Each four levels of experience increases Tactical Defense by one point.  You can see your current Tactical Defense on the Merchant Screen.  Large ships have a negative TD which could potentially be made
positive by a highly skilled Merchant. A negative TD is not harmful.  If your current TD is negative, it will appear as zero on the Merchant Screen.<br><br>

Higher tactical defense = fewer mines collide when hitting mine field.<br>

<dt><br><b>Mine Field Evasion</b></dt>

<dd>Ships can evade enemy mine fields.  The chance of evasion is a flat percentage.  The percentage is determined mainly by the size of the mine field and the tactical defense of the evading ship.  5 mines = 35%, 10 mines = 20%, 20 mines = 15%, 30 mines = 10%, 40 mines = 5%.  The ship's tactical defense is added to the mine field size percentage.  If the ship is cloaked, an additional 10% is added to the chance of evasion.  So a ship with a TD of 11, entering a mine field of size 10 would have a 33% chance of evading.  Each group of mines that belong to an individual merchant count as a separate mine field.


<H3><A NAME="ss2.5">2.5 Planets</A>

<P>When properly stocked with defenses (shields, turrets, and drones) planets provide a safe haven
where merchants may log off without fear of attack.<br><br>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Ownership</b></dt>

<dd>Planets are claimed by merchants.  Initially, a planet has no owner.  The first merchant to land on a planet has the choice of claiming the
planet by setting a planetary password.  Merchants are allowed to claim ownership of one planet at a time.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Stockpiles</b></dt>

<dd>A planet can hold 600 holds of every good type.  Many of these goods are used in the construction
of planetary defenses.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Attack</b></dt>

<dd>The planetary Tri-Focus Plasma (150/150 damage) gives the planet the ability to make long range anti-ship attacks.   Disruptor Missiles are anti-planetary shield missiles (250 damage) that can be launched against neighboring enemy planets.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Defenses</b></dt>

<dd>Shield Generators: these structures hold 100 shields.  All shield generators must be destroyed
before an attacker may land on a planet.<br><br>
Hangars: these structures hold 20 combat drones.  All hangars must be destroyed before
an attacker may land on a planet.<br><br>

Planetary combat drones can be divided into squadrons.  Each squadron attacks separately.  Between 1 to 5 squadrons can be designated.<br><br>

Turrets: these structures hold a 250/250 damage weapon.  An attacker may land on a planet
without first destroying the planet's turrets.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Warp Inhibitors</b></dt>

<dd>A planetary warp inhibitor prevents non-allied ships from warping into the immediate sector.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Scanners</b></dt>

<dd>A planetary scanner (which detects cloaked merchants at a level equal to the highest ranked merchant currently on the
planet) can be used to scan the immediate sector for enemy ships.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Battle Management Control Unit</b></dt>

<dd>Reports attacks upon allied ships and forces in	the current galaxy.  This information is displayed on the planetary defense screen.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Ship Hangar</b></dt>

<dd>The owner of a planet can store up to three ships in its hangar.  Each merchant can store one ship on each allied planet.  Ship-based technology and weapons can be stored in the planetary ship hangar.</dd>

<dt><br><b>Planetary Star Gates</b></dt>

<dd>Star Gates are inter-planetary portals.  They function in pairs: travel is only possible between two linked Star Gates.  Star Gates have a lifetime of twelve hours.  Star Gates are accessed from planetary orbit.</dd>


<H3><A NAME="ss2.6">2.6 Locations</A>

<P>Valuable goods and services are available at these locations:<br><br>

<b>Banks</b><br>  Banks provide secure accounts for the storage of credits.  There are three types of bank accounts:<br><br>
(1) Personal<br>
Every merchant is given a personal account.<br>
(2) Anonymous<br>
Merchants may open anonymous accounts.  These accounts are password protected.  If a merchant wishes someone else
to have access to this account, he/she shares the account password.<br>
(3) Alliance<br>
An alliance account is an anonymous account that has been registered to a particular alliance by an alliance
leader.  Alliance members do not need the account password in order to access this accout.<br><br>
Credits deposited in a bank will return a small daily interest payment.
<b>Governmental Capitol</b><br>
Every race controls its own galaxy in Merchant Empires.  The race's ruling seat of power
is the governmental capitol.  At the capitols, merchants may:<br>
(1) Place bounties<br>
(2) Claim bounties<br>
(3) Become an official Imperial Deputy<br>
(4) Claim military payment<br><br>
<b>Underground Centers</b><br>
The evil denizens of Merchant Empires congregate at these locations.  Underground centers provide to evil merchants many of the services of governmental capitols:<br>
(1) Place bounties<br>
(2) Claim bounties<br>
(3) Become an official Underground Member<br><br>
<b>Technology Dealer</b><br>
At these locations merchants may purchase:<br>
(1) Forces (combat drones, scout drones, and mines)<br>
(2) Defensive ship armature (shields and armor)<br>
(3) Ship based technological hardware (cloaking devices, illusion generators, jump drives, and scanners)<br>
(4) Cargo holds<br><br>
<b>Ship Dealer</b><br>
A merchant may acquire a new vessel at this location.  Weaponry and technological hardware may be transfered
from the old to the new ship.<br><br>
<b>Weapons Dealer</b><br>
Weapons dealers traffic in offensive ship weaponry.

<H3><A NAME="ss2.7">2.7 Galaxies</A>

The Merchant Empires universe is divided into separate galaxies.  Most galaxies are populated
and controlled by a distinct race.

<H3><A NAME="ss2.8">2.8 Inter-galaxy Warps</A>

Movement between galaxies in Merchant Empires may be accomplished by either:<br>

(1) Inter-galaxy warps.  These warps, sometimes referred to as worm-holes, are rifts in time and
space that allow movement from one galaxy to another.  Warps are not always predictable; the occasional warp
will send a merchant to a random location in the universe.<br>
(2) Jump drives.  Some ships in Merchant Empires can be equiped with jump drives that allow limited inter-galaxy
movement (using a jump drive costs 20 game turns).  There is a probability for error when jumping long distances.  40% (-merchant level) chance of miss jumping during galaxy jump. 35% (-merchant level) chance of miss jumping if jumping more than 4 sectors.<br>
(3) Planetary Star Gates.

<H3><A NAME="ss2.9">2.9 The Imperial Government</A>

<P>The remnants of the once supreme Imperial Government are spread across the Merchant Empires universe.  Most galaxies will contain sectors that are still controlled
by the Imperial Government.  In these sectors, the Imperium seeks to maintain
a semblace of its former glory by patrolling space lanes and preventing crime.  (See Imperial Protection.)

<H3><A NAME="ss2.10">2.10 Imperial Starbases</A>

<P>Imperial Starbases function as safe havens for merchants who qualify for Imperial Protection.  Ships that have
been inactive (not-moving) in Imperial space for an extended period of time will be towed to Imperial Starbases
for safekeeping.

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