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PARSEC Frequently Asked Questions
(last updated on: January 28, 2003)

1. What will the game play be like?

Parsec most of all is a fast-paced space shooter, where the emphasis is more on fun and action than on realism. As far as game play itself is concerned, Parsec has probably more in common with the network game play of first person shooters like Quake than with sophisticated simulations like Elite.
After starting up the game you simply choose a ship and select the galaxy you want to be playing in. You can do this in a number of ways. You can either select the desired galaxy in the starmap, enter stellar coordinates, choose a gameserver from a list of servers, or enter the DNS/IP address of a specific gameserver manually. (A gameserver directly corresponds to a galaxy in the Parsec universe.)
Every ship has some basic equipment right from the start, but to get most of the funky stuff like additional weapons, energy, invulnerability, and the like, you have to pick up power-ups that are floating around in outer-space. When you're shot down you lose most of them and are once again back down to the basic equipment. Other players can then reclaim the power-ups you've just lost.
The basic mode of game play is deathmatch, where you simply try to collect as many kills as possible. Basically, there are no explicit game sessions, players can join and leave a game at any time. However, it is possible to set kill and time limits on the server for specific solar systems, in order to determine the winner of a game after one of these limits has been reached.
We're currently thinking about team play modes, but there's nothing definitive on this issue yet.

2. Is there anything close to a plot in Parsec (good guys/bad guys)?

Right now there is no plot in Parsec. There are no missions and no actual background story, just pure, fast-paced action. Nevertheless, we are considering setting Parsec in a scenario providing a motivating background. Whether this would include some sort of good guys and bad guys, or controlling ships of different human and alien races has not been decided yet.

3. So you aren't going to include a trading system and there will be no persistent data in the universe (Elite style)?

No, at least not in the foreseeable future. We have a lot of ideas that go much further than just deathmatch, or even more sophisticated team play modes, but due to our limited resources we have decided to focus on a certain subset of features, to avoid just talking cool stuff without ever living up to it. We know that many people would love to have features like trading, but for the time being we prefer to have a core concept that's actually within reach.

4. What about a single-player mode then (bots)?

We would love to include a single-player mode, but right now we are focusing exclusively on the multi-player aspect. Our resources are quite limited and it's already very hard to do a rock-solid multi-player game. On the other hand, we would really like to include bots you can use for honing your skills off-line. Like a lot of other features, bots will definitely have to wait until after the initial release, however. We intend Parsec to be an ongoing project, though, so there is lots of room for additional features.

5. How many simultaneous players will Parsec support?

Right now we're supporting up to 16 players per solar system, but this number may increase in the future. This doesn't at all mean there are only 16 players in the entire game, however. Since a galaxy (gameserver) may be comprised of several solar systems, and the entire universe itself consists of all the gameservers, there may be many more people travelling the Parsec universe at any one time. The number of players per solar system is just the smallest unit of game play. As long as there are not already 16 players in a solar system, you can use a stargate to travel from system to system at any time. If a solar system is too crowded, the corresponding stargate will be closed and you won't be able to enter.

6. Are certain galaxies friendly to craft who have pledged allegiance? Can clans be founded? Is it possible to have ships with multiplayer crews?

The possibility to found something like clans (or fleets) will definitely exist.
Alliances and more elobrate modes of game play will probably have to wait until after the initial release. However, we are considering several different team play modes right now. We have not really decided on any of these issues yet. First will be deathmatch-only, team play will follow later on.
Spacecraft will be piloted by one person only.

7. Will there be landing on planets or docking on huge ships/space-stations?

Landing on planets or docking to space stations will not be a part of the initial release. Space stations might be part of Parsec at a later time, landing on planets is rather unlikely.

8. What physics model are you going to use? Wing Commander or Babylon 5 style?

The flight model of Parsec is very similar to Wing Commander's. It's intuitive and very easy to grasp. We really like physically-based flight models, though, so we would like to offer an alternative model in the future.

9. How do I know what ping times I get if I jump to another galaxy/server in the game?

The ping time will be displayed at the corresponding stargate, along with other useful information about the destination. From a more technical point of view, you will be able to acquire a lot of info about gameservers from Parsec's command console.

10. Will I be able to talk to the others in the game? Are there chat rooms (space bars)?

Basically, you can talk at any time, although you may be shot down if you are connected to a particular solar system and have joined the battle. To avoid being shot, and giving others some cheap kills, you may choose to just stay connected to a solar system without joining the actual battle. In this state you are able to talk without risking to be blasted in the meantime.

11. Are you considering voice-conferencing as well?

We did some research into this direction and it would really be a great feature. We can't really promise anything here, though, since there definitely are more important features than voice transmission.

12. Will Parsec be user configurable and support the import or creation of new skins/ ships/ weapons/ mods?

Yes. Parsec will be highly configurable. You will be able to import your own ships, change textures, sounds, other data, etc. The entire Parsec source will be available from May 2003 on, and thus allow all kinds of extensions imaginable. The Parsec SDK that was planned previously will not be released as such, since it will be superseded by the full source release.

13. When do you expect the demo of Parsec to be released? Will it be self-running or playable?

We have already released a self-running demo at the end of February 2000. In early October 2000 we have made the first Parsec LAN-Test available for download, which is the first playable Parsec release. This is a fully playable version of Parsec for up to four players connected on a LAN. Additional LAN-Test releases have followed. Internet-playable versions, also supporting more players, will be released in the future.

14. When will the beta test follow?

Future Parsec beta testing will be a part of the upcoming open source development effort.

15. I would like to be a beta tester!

Coordination of beta testing will be announced in the future.

16. Why not release an alpha-version now? As far as it looks from the screenshots/as it looked at LinuxTag, Parsec must be fairly playable. Why not just release it now?

Starting in May 2003, Parsec will be an open community project.

17. And when will the final version be available for download then?

There will probably be no "final version" for quite a long time, since we would like to extend Parsec frequently after the initial release. This doesn't mean that Parsec will always be incomplete or unstable, just that we want to add a lot of features later on.

18. How big will the download file size be?

Please see the download page for file sizes of different packages.

19. How much later will the Mac, Linux and other versions be out after the Windows versions?

All versions will be out at the same time, they are always up-to-date.

20. What are the minimum system-requirements to handle Parsec?

Operating system Win32 (98/NT/2000)
MacOS 8.5 or later (MacOS X is supported!)
CPU Pentium 200 MHz
(compatible) or higher
PowerPC G3 233MHz
Memory at least 64MB RAM (128MB for OpenGL) at least 64MB RAM (128MB for OpenGL)
Harddisk space about 100MB about 100MB
Graphics card 3dfx Voodoo Graphics hardware accelerator or
OpenGL compatible hardware accelerator with atleast 8MB of VRAM
3dfx Voodoo Graphics hardware accelerator or
OpenGL compatible hardware accelerator with atleast 8MB of VRAM
Additional software Win32: DirectX 3 or higher
Linux: Kernel 2.2 or higher and glibc 2.1.x or higher
Apple GameSprockets
Input device Win32: DirectInput-compatible joystick
Linux: Kernel-supported joystick
InputSprocket-compatible joystick

Please note that these system requirements are preliminary and might be changed before the release.

21. What about connection speed to the Internet?

A 28.8kbps modem is the required minimum.

22. What about the software renderer?

The software renderer has been removed from the Parsec code base. It will not be released, and also not be a part of the Parsec source release.

23. Will there be support for other versions of Linux (PPC, Alpha, Sparc, ...)?

See the answer to question 24.

24. What about other operating systems like Win32/Alpha, BeOS, OS/2, PPC Amiga?

Currently we are not planning on supporting any additional operating systems. However, since the Parsec source will be freely available from May 2003 on, other developers will be welcome to port Parsec to additional platforms.

25. Will OpenGL work on a Mac, too? Will there be RAVE support?

We will fully support OpenGL on the Mac, because this is Apple's 3-D API of choice. The time we would need to add bullet-proof RAVE support is much better invested in improving the OpenGL code, which will also yield benefits for all the other platforms we are supporting.

26. Will you exploit SMP systems (use more than one processor)?

We already use two threads if possible, but most of the work is done by only one thread. We'll look into exploiting this possibility further in the future, but the priority of explicitly supporting SMP is very low.

27. Is the dedicated server a command line interface or is it graphical?

The server has a console where the operator is able to issue commands. Server commands can also be issued remotely, by connecting to the server via TELNET.

28. Will I be allowed to set up a Parsec server?

Everyone will be allowed to host/set up a Parsec server, as long as the server is non-commercial. Internet-accessible servers will have to be registered at the central Parsec masterserver if they want to become part of the Parsec universe. To start a private LAN game no Parsec server is needed, you just have to start Parsec and will be able to see all other players on the local net.

29. Would it be possible to incorporate SOCKS proxy support into Parsec?

Yes, we're thinking about this. We'll definitely incorporate something that will let you play through a firewall.

30. Why are you offering it for free?

Basically, Parsec has always been planned to be a project for fun and educational purposes. So the decision to release it as freeware was actually quite an easy one. As soon as it became apparent that we didn't compare all that badly to commercial releases (at least in most respects, we certainly won't be able to compete with the breadth of the big releases, there being no missions and real story, for instance), we coined the term "commercial-quality freeware" to describe a freeware game that rivals commercial releases in quality. Since then, we're working on living up to this premise.

31. Will there be advertisements on the Parsec Home Page or commercials in the game, then?


32. If the game itself will be free, how will it generate revenue for you?

We are simply not thinking in terms of revenue, we do this because it's an awful lot of fun and we also get the opportunity to learn a lot along the way.

33. Will Parsec be open-source?

Yes. In May 2003, we will change the development model of Parsec to an open source approach. At that time, the original Parsec Project will be closed, and further Parsec development will be an open community effort supported by members of the original Parsec Project.

34. What license type will you be using?

We have not yet decided on any specific license. However, we intend to continue disallowing commercial uses of Parsec.

35. Is there a Parsec mailing list?

Yes. More information is available at the lists page.

36. Why don't you update your website more often?

In the future, we intend the official Parsec website to become the central hub for playing Parsec and continuing Parsec development. As part of this open development model, the role and update frequency of the webpage will definitely change somewhat.

37. Is there any way I can contribute to Parsec?

Yes. Beginning in May 2003, there will be many opportunities to contribute to Parsec as a member of the open source development effort.

38. What are your plans for after releasing Parsec?

After the source release of Parsec in May 2003, the original Parsec Project will be closed. However, some members of the original Parsec Project will continue working on Parsec as members of the open source development effort.

39. How do you eat?

Well, most of the time with knives and forks, since we now all know that there is no spoon. ;)

40. Will there be a version for Mac OS X?

There is already. Thanks to some very friendly people at Apple, who sent us a G4 and some graphics cards, we were able to port Parsec to MacOS X, and it runs great.

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