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Setting Up A Game

The details of setting up a game depend on what kind of system you're using, although it will usually be a series of dialogs. Consult the appropriate chapter for more details.

The remainder of this section describes the general process of setup common to all interfaces. Game setup is complex because Xconq allows you to choose the networking, the game, its variants, and the players, and many different combinations are possible.

The first thing you do is to choose the game. The standard Xconq game library has many different game modules from which to choose, and there are more to be found on the net and elsewhere.

The game that you choose may require no additional setup; once loaded, you're ready to go. Others will require additional decisions, such as the size and shape of the playing area, whether exploration will be necessary, or whether the game is realtime. These choices are variants of the game. The exact set of variants is part of the game design, and the interface will (usually) tell you about them.

In addition, most games also give you a choice of which player is to play which side in a game, as well how many players can join in. There are two kinds of players: humans, who have displays, and artificial intelligences or AIs for short, which are run by the computer. Some versions of Xconq may include more than one kind of AI; each type has a distinct name. The AI named mplayer is always available.

Some game designs provide a way to balance things if the players are of differing abilities. In these designs, each player has an advantage that affects how much he or she gets to start with. Weaker players should get a higher advantage, so for instance a game with two players, of advantages 1 and 4, might give the advantage 4 player 8 cities while the advantage 1 player gets only 2. This affects setup only; during the game all players are equal. The variability of advantage also depends on the game; some may allows differences of 10 to 1 or more, while others, especially historically accurate scenarios, will have a fixed advantage that the designer has set for each side.

In networked games, the process of agreeing on a player setup may take a while. However, this is still only a trial player setup; once it has been agreed upon, Xconq runs synthesis methods. The synthesis methods of a game design tell how generate anything that was not explicitly spelled out; such as the initial location of countries, terrain features, and so forth. As a player, you don't have to concern yourself much about synthesis methods, but you may get warnings or errors if a synthesis method is having difficulties. A common case is where you ask for many players to be set up in a small world, and the player positioning rules are too "tight" for an initial setup; you will get a warning that some players were given poor positions. Synthesis methods may also take a long time to run; for large worlds and lots of players, be prepared to wait.

When game setup succeeds, Xconq will try to open up displays for every player that wanted one. Once all the players are in, Xconq will start the game for real.

You may also get a warning that "images were not found". This happens when the game design specifies the use of particular icons or patterns (collectively call images here), but they cannot be found anywhere by Xconq. This is not fatal, because Xconq will use generic default images instead, but the display may be hard to understand. There are several possible reasons for images not to be found: 1) the game designer might have specified the use of particular images, but never defined them, 2) the library of images was not updated to include the needed images, or 3) the image library is not located where Xconq is looking.

section Troubleshooting Xconq describes more of the errors and warnings that you may encounter, and what to do about them.

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