PCC2 / PlayVCR Common Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the PCC2 project.

I want a Planets client. Which one should I take?
Use PCC2.
Since 1.99.4 (May 2009), PCC2 is a proven-playable client. Since around version 2.0 (March 2016), it has feature-parity with PCC 1.x (the DOS version).
If you're using planets.exe or Winplan, or your operating system does not run your favourite client, PCC2 will be a great alternative for you. I have been using nothing but PCC2 for playing since about five years now.
Probably everyone -- even those playing VGAP remakes -- will have a use for PlayVCR, PCC2's combat viewer and simulator. Its graphics are a little nicer than those of the others, and its simulator runs faster than all other simulators known to me. Hosts might find Un-TRN useful, especially its ability to "sanitize" turns.
In principle, I still support PCC 1.x (the DOS version), but do not expect too many feature updates on it. If you have something it dearly needs, feel free to tell me, but normally, feature development will happen on the PCC2 lines.
PCC2ng is still in experimental stage and not intended for end-users.
Does PCC2 run on 64-bit computers?
The binaries I offer are 32-bit. You therefore need some 32-bit DLLs on your computer. Windows has the necessary files pre-installed. If you use the Linux package, you may have to install them.
If you have a compiler, you can also compile PCC2 yourself. Various versions of PCC2 have been tested to compile under 64-bit Linux or MacOS X; new development happens on 64 bit.
Where did the PlayVCR download go? I just want the VCR player.
Take the regular PCC2 package. It contains everything the old PlayVCR package contained, plus more. When you use the installer, you can uncheck the components you do not want, or simply ignore them.
I've made just one package containing everything to simplify matters. Sure the package is now a little bigger than before, but, hey, what's two megabytes today.
I don't like the PCC GUI. Can't you make it more like VPA?
I'm trying to make this possible, but it will take time. Before that, I want the actual functionality to be as rock-solid as you expect it. Until then I'm implementing new stuff PCC-style first. However, since beta 10 (August 2010), PCC2 supports basic play-from-map by displaying appropriate information overlays, and accepting keystrokes. That's not yet VPA, but it's getting close.
If you're really desperate, you can of course take my source code and make your own client. The license allows that.
Can I play planets.nu with PCC2?
There is an experimental adaptor c2nu. It allows you to download and unpack your result file, and later upload your turn. However, this adaptor is limited by technical conditions, and not very easy to use.
PCC2ng will (try to) support network play with the planets.nu and planetscentral.com servers.
Can I mix PCC2 with another client?
Yes. But remember that you must not run the two in parallel. Close your other client before opening PCC2, and close PCC2 before opening your other client.
There's one exception: Do not try mixing PCC2 Beta 3 (20081216) and PCC 1.x. Beta 3 started to understand PCC's starchart database, but does not understand it completely, so it will destroy your history data. Newer versions of PCC2 are fine.
The program is in German, I prefer English.
PlayVCR uses whatever language Windows reports to be in use. Either configure your Windows for English, or delete the file %PlayVCR%\resource\de.lang.
Since December 2006, the installer has a switch to disable installation of language files. If you do not install the language files, PlayVCR will always be in English.
Under Unix, PlayVCR reads the LANG and LC_MESSAGES environment variables to determine the language.
I have installed high-resolution ship pictures, but PlayVCR truncates them to the standard size which looks ugly.
PlayVCR currently only runs in 640x480. It can not resize images on the fly.
You can install a standard-sized picture set and make PlayVCR use that:
  • install the pictures into a different directory than your main Winplan directory. For example, use %PlayVCR%\bmp. Pictures can be in .bmp, .jpg, or .png format.
  • edit %PlayVCR%\resource\cc-res.cfg and change the line that starts with wp: to point to that new directory.
When I click "VCR" in Winplan, PlayVCR loads the wrong player's files!
The information about which race you chose is not easily available, the program does some educated guesses to figure it out. Normally, your race should be recognized correctly after you changed something small in your game, e.g., a friendly code. Details differ even between Windows versions. If it still does not work, you can make a PlayVCR icon on your desktop or somewhere, and drag and drop vcr.dat files on it to play them.
Version 15/Sep/2002 and later: you can use the "F-File" button to switch to a different player.
Mid-2011 addition: the best solution to this problem is to have Winplan tell PlayVCR the file name. There is a Winplan32 in development which directly supports PlayVCR.
I can not access Winplan's simulator any more!
Since December 2006, PlayVCR has a much better simulator built in. It can be accessed using F4.
If you insist on using Winplan's simulator, run winplano.exe instead of winplan.exe to get the normal Winplan without PlayVCR. Actually, winplan.exe is a small wrapper program which starts winplano.exe and PlayVCR.
PCC2 under Windows dies with a "signal 11" (protection fault).
This is a bug (of course). Unfortunately, most of these problems in the past were caused by bugs in the Borland compiler. It mis-compiles certain C++ constructs. On the other hand, I'm not that innocent either.
Since 14/Mar/2010 (beta 8), PCC2 is compiled by the MinGW compiler, and appears much more stable.
My virus scanner/firewall claims winplan.exe to be infected by a virus / trojan horse / keyboard logger!
Although we cannot guarantee it, chances are this is a false alert. When you install PlayVCR and choose to integrate it into Winplan (the second path prompt), we replace your winplan.exe with a small program that starts the actual Winplan (renamed to winplano.exe), and observe what you do with it. When you open the VCR window, we immediately close it again and start PlayVCR instead. The problem is that evil software often does the same: it observes what you do (to capture credit card numbers), or it closes windows (to hide the firewall's Alert dialogs).
If you do not trust our adventurous Winplan integration, do not install it (leave the Winplan path blank when the installer asks for it) and run PlayVCR by hand.
When I start PlayVCR, my Winamp stops playing!
Your audio driver does not support concurrent access by multiple programs. Windows has two kinds of sound drivers, DirectX and Waveout, so the problem may be solved by telling either program to use a different one. Both programs usually default to using DirectX. Try one of the following:
  • Open Winamp's "Preferences" dialog and select the Waveout driver in the "output plugin" section (exact wording varies with Winamp versions).
  • Set the environment variable SDL_AUDIODRIVER to waveout before running PlayVCR. To do so permanently, right-click on "My Computer", "Advanced", "Environment Variables", and create a new variable. To do so temporarily, open a command-prompt window, enter set SDL_AUDIODRIVER=waveout, and then run PlayVCR from that command-prompt window.

Older FAQs

"Error: Unable to initialize language support"
Versions before September 2002: This is not an error. It just means PlayVCR does not know your language so it will run in English. You can safely ignore this message.
September 2002 and later: these display this error message only if there really is something wrong. If you still get it, report it as a bug.
Who the heck is the Transsexual Federation?
Björn's race :-) The race.nm file shipped with (older versions of) PlayVCR is the one from my very first Planets game. It seems to sneak in almost everywhere (because it is in my main Planets directory...). If you don't like it, replace %PlayVCR%\specs\race.nm with the one from your Winplan directory. And before you ask, the Divan Japonais is Martin's race.
Current PlayVCR versions should contain the correct file.
The program crashes with an "INTERNAL ERROR: FAIL" in gfx/gfx.cc.
This problem should be fixed in the January 2004 version.
You are using a 24 bits-per-pixel graphics mode. 24 bpp modes are a programming nightmare. PlayVCR does not support these. Normally, it should tell you that in a more civilized fashion, but it seems I made a mistake here. Switch to a 16 bpp mode ("65536 colors"), or to a 32 bpp mode. Alternatively, use the "-bpp 16" option when invoking PlayVCR.
If you use Christian's installer, make a file vcr.cfg in your Winplan directory and place the line playvcrparameters=-bpp 16 in it (if you already have that file, append the line).
When compiling PCC2 on my Debian-unstable, it dies with a segmentation fault in the Perl interpreter.
This is a problem with your Perl interpreter. Try using a different one. The following configurations are known to work: Perl 5.004_04 on SuSE 5.1, Perl 5.8.0 on SuSE 5.1, Perl 5.6.1 on Debian 3.0r1 (woody), Perl 5.005_03 for DJGPP under DOS or Windows, ActivePerl 5.8.2 under Windows.
PlayVCR crashes when I watch a battle involving a ship of type <insert type here>
This problem is considered to be fixed in beta 11.
The usual cause for this type of problem is that a .bmp file from your Winplan picture set is not 100% standard. The library PlayVCR uses to load these files only understands standard, uncompressed BMP files. To fix this problem, do the following:
  • Open the offending file in Paint, select it (Ctrl+A), and copy it into the clipboard (Ctrl+C).
  • Open a new instance of Paint, paste it (Ctrl+V).
  • Save it, overwriting the old file.
(Just saving the file does not help with newer versions of Paint, which preserve the non-standard format).

What do you mean by %PlayVCR%?
Instead of %PlayVCR%, substitute the directory you installed PlayVCR into. The default is C:\Program Files\PlayVCR or C:\Program Files\PCC2. (Although this is the common notation for environment variables under Windows, there never is such a variable.)

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Stefan Reuther
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