FTJava

FTJava is a Java based play-by-e-mail client program designed to run Full Thrust starship combat games for two or more players. We also have a couple of solitaire scenarios for single player games. The client software consists of a graphical user interface to control ship movement and combat. Orders are sent to the FTJava server, which processes the results and returns them to the players. Reading the FT Light gives a great introduction to FTJava.

Design team

Authors include Jon Davis, Dan Blezek, Tony Christney, Mike Riddle, Damond Walker, and Tom Tongue. Contributors include Brian Bell, Roger Burton West, Nick Dingle, Scott Field, Noam Izenberg, Mark Kochte, Al Muller, Brendan Robertson, George Ryon, and Bob Yeager.

Download and installation

Binaries for different platforms are available for download. The Java Runtime Environment is bundled with the Mac and Windows versions. For the Linux distribution, a JRE is required and may be downloaded from Oracle.

Logging into the server

Use the File > Account Information... menu to login to the server. If you have never registered with the server, click Create account to begin playing immediately!

Joining a game

Choose File > Join Game... to bring up a list of games waiting for players. The Scenario title and number of players is displayed.

Starting a game

Choos File > Start Game... and select a scenario file. Many scenario files are distributed with the FTJava, and can be downloaded separately.

Once all player slots have been filled, the server will make the first round available, and it will appear as The Thorian Incident - T0 - Movement. The format of each game is Scenario Name - Turn # - Phase.

FTJava runs in two phases per game turn: a movement phase and a combat phase.

The Games menu lists recent game turns you have run. The Editor menu accesses the scenario editor (see the section on scenario deign). Opening the turn file will bring up the Control Panel and Star Map.

Control panel

The Control Panel allows you to access ship information and issue orders to your ships. Information on enemy ships is also available, but may be limited by Fog of War settings. Each ship that you can detect has it’s own tab; the names of your ships are black, any allies you may have are green, and enemy ships are red. The dot on the tab gives the ship’s overall status: green for undamaged or lightly damaged, yellow for moderate, red for heavy or critical, and a grey skull for ships that have been destroyed. (All colors can be changed under Preferences.)

Clicking on a ship’s tab brings up that ship’s information panel. The Ship Log button brings up a record of all fire directed against that ship, threshold checks and damage control results, and the results of all weapons fired by that ship the previous turn. During Movement Phase, you also have a Damage Control button (see Damage Control below), and a Launched Weapons button if your ship carries salvo missiles. During Combat Phase, the Damage Control button is replaced by Weapons Targeting.

Control panel menu commands

  • Game: Allows you to Save your orders, Queue them for email delivery (if using the client email program), and Close the turn. If you attempt to close a turn without having saved orders, a prompt will remind you.
  • View: Brings up various reports, including the Scenario Briefing, Player Objectives, - Full Report, Sensor Report, and Turn Report. You can also toggle to the Star Map.
  • Messages: Allows you to send & receive messages to other players in the game.
  • Ship: Displays a ship’s movement paths, weapon arcs, targeting lock ons, and sensor range bands. It also allows you to clear any of the above information, and to remove a dead or escaped ship from the display.
  • Friendly: The same as the Ship menu, but applies to all ships you control.
  • Enemy: Allows you to display much of the same information for enemy ships.

Star map

The star map window provides a graphical interface displaying the position of your ships and all allied/enemy ships you can detect. The green bar underneath a ship’s name represents its current hull integrity. The yellow bar represents screen strength: a full bar indicates Level-2 screens, a half bar indicates Level-1, and no bar indicates no screens or unknown. Right-clicking on the map brings up the following menu options:

  • SSD: Toggles to the Control Panel.
  • Clear: Clears all movement and weapon information currently displayed.
  • Map: Changes the map scale.
  • Center: Centers the map on the selected point.
  • Set Mark: Allows you to set a mark point on the map for reference or for targeting missiles. Right-clicking on a ship also allows you to access information for that ship, duplicating many of the Ship menu commands from the Control Panel.

Movement phase

Opening the Movement file will display combat results from the previous turn (if any), and allow you to issue movement orders to your ships. Enter the movement orders for each ship in the plot text area. Cinematic orders will be accepted in either the form P1+1 or 1P+1. Vector movement orders are as per FB1, with the modifications from FB2 in effect, and are given as a sequence of commands separated by spaces: MD3 or +3 to thrust main drive 3 points, RP2 to rotate to port 2 points, PS to push to starboard, etc.

If you wish to activate a ship’s FTL drives to leave the battle, give the order as ‘FTL’ or ‘J’. This order must be done on two consecutive turns, and no other ship systems (such as weapons) may be used after the initial activation.

If you enter illegal orders for a ship, the plot text window background will change color to red. If you submit illegal orders the server will parse and reinterpret them, reducing first acceleration / deceleration, then course change to a legal limit.

Valid movement commands – Cinematic

Order     Effect
S Rotate to starboard
P Rotate to port
+# accelerate
-# decelerate
FTL prepare for FTL, ship leaves after second FTL order
Z sideslip port, first turn to port, second turn to starboard
C sideslip starboard, first turn to starboard, second turn to port

Example: S2+2 turn 2 to starboard, accelerate 2.


Valid movement commands – Vector

Order     Effect
MD Fire main drive (# or -#)
RS Rotate to starboard
RP Rotate to port
PS push to starboard
PP push to port
PR push reverse
RO Roll the ship, flips left and right
FTL prepare for FTL, ship leaves after second FTL order
J prepare for FTL, ship leaves after second FTL order


You can also plot hypothetical movement for enemy and allied ships; these orders are not sent to the server, but are useful for attempting to predict enemy movement and firing.

  • Ghost Plot: Selecting this option for a ship (or fleet) displays the ship’s projected movement path for the turn, based on the orders currently entered in the plot orders window.
  • Ghost Envelope: This option displays the boundary of possible movement the ship is capable of, given its known thrust.
  • Ghost Trail: Displays the ship’s movement path for the previous turn. Note that unless Ghost Plot is enabled, weapon arcs will display arcs and range bands from where the ship is currently positioned, not where it will be during the combat phase.

Damage Control

Clicking the Damage Control button brings up the ship’s SSD, as well as a dialog for assigning tasks to each damage control party. If no repair orders are given, the server will automatically assign damage control parties in the order systems are displayed in the dialog. Repair results are reported in the ship log.

Launched Weapons

To launch salvo missiles, first set a mark point on the map by right-clicking where you intend to place the salvo and selecting ‘Set Mark.’ (Missile firing arcs and range band can be turned on through ‘Ship & Weapon Arcs.‘) Then return to the Control Panel and click the Launched Weapons button for the desired ship. This will bring up a launch dialog for each missile launcher/rack on that ship. Press Launch to fire a salvo to your designated mark point. If the mark is out of range, the salvo will target a point at maximum range along a line to the mark. Launched salvos are displayed on the Star Map. Right-clicking on the salvo will allow you to display the salvo’s range band and other information. You can abort the launch of a salvo at any time prior to submitting orders by returning to the Launched Weapons dialog and selecting ‘Cancel’.

Sending Movement Orders

Once you have entered movement orders for all your ships, execute the Queue Movement Orders command. An entry will show up in Outgoing Turns list. Submit orders using the Send Games button.

Combat phase

Once the server has received movement orders from all players, it will compute the results of the movement phase. The Incoming Games list will now have a ‘Combat’ game. Opening this file brings up the Control Panel and Star Map for the combat phase.

Clicking the Weapons Targeting button for a ship brings up the targeting dialog box. This dialog displays all functioning weapon systems and all fire controls. Select a target from the pulldown menu for each fire control and check the boxes for all weapons systems you wish to assign to that target. If the designated target is out of range or out of arc, that information will be displayed on the right side of the panel.

Displaying weapon arcs and range bands is helpful for deciding which targets to engage. Range arcs display the maximum number of dice that can target that band/arc. Weapons attacks are resolved as specified in the appropriate section of the Full Thrust rulebooks for that weapon system.

Point Defense Systems

Point Defense Systems (PDS) can also be assigned targets. A pulldown menu for each PDS lists all missile salvos and fighter squadrons that are within range. Select one to assign the PDS to that target. PDS may also be used to target enemy capitol ships within 6’.

If a ship has an ADFC, a pulldown menu will list all friendly ships within range that the ADFC may support; selecting a friendly ship allows the supporting ship’s PDSes to target any missiles/fighters targeting the supported ship.

Lock Ons

The Lock Ons feature may be used to verify which ships you have targeted. A red lock-on points to the primary target selected. A yellow lock-on is drawn to all secondary targets. A green lock-on is drawn to tertiary targets. PDS targeting of missiles or fighter groups is shown in white.

Sending Combat Orders

Once you have given firing orders to all the ships you wish to fire, execute the Queue Movement Orders command. An entry will appear in the Outgoing Orders list. Click Send Games to submit to the server.

Fog of war

How much information you know about enemy ships is determined by the Fog Of War option set when the game is created. There are three game options for the ‘fog of war’ games:

  • None: All information is available at all times.
  • Range based: option that reports a varying amount of information depending on the minimum ship range to the opposing target. It’s based on a sensor range band. At the first range band, the highest level of information is available. At the second band, the information level drops by one. Therefore, at greater than five range bands from your opponent, you will not have any information on the opposing players ship. The default sensor range band is 18 mu.
  • Blip based: acts similarly to range based, but gives you position information (only) beyond the range where a ship could normally be detected and only when the opposing ship is actively using its Main drives.

There are six levels of information on opposing ships.

  • Full information with system status (default)
    • Full information with no system status
    • Mass, drives, and screen information only
    • Mass information only
    • Position, heading, and speed information only
    • No information

FTJava Client Preferences

The FTJava client software has a number of user preferences that can customize the software.

Account Preferences

These settings are used to configure your email address, nickname and password.

StarMap Preferences

These options allow you to set Ship name fonts, text colors, the background image, and grid lines.

The Center on Ship option recenters the map on the ship when the ship tag is selected from the control panel.

The Graphical Status bar gives an indicator of the remaining hull percentage in the green bar. The yellow line indicates whether the ship is shielded and either level-1 or level-2 shields.

Orders Preferences

This preference allows user interface customization for the Orders panel. It includes color preferences, enemy plotting option, and an accelerator key options for StarMap functions.

Ship Status Preferences

These options control the appearance of the Ship Status Display and the display options for indicating system status. Status by color will display damaged, destroyed, or expended systems in specific colors. Status by icon will superimpose a small icon over the system. Status by cross will mark a line across a system that is damaged and an X across a system that is destroyed.

Ending a game

Coming Soon.

Reporting bugs, etc

The primary method for reporting or discussing bugs, glitches, and other problems is to email ftjava.gamemaster@gmail.com

Designing original scenarios

The Scenario editor is described elsewhere.

About

Full Thrust is published by Ground Zero Games http://www.gzg.com/ and is Copyright 1992, Jon Tuffley. Full Thrust rulebooks published so far include: Full Thrust - 2nd Edition (FT), FT Light, Fleet Book 1 (FB1) and Fleet Book 2 (FB2).

FTJava Copyright 2000-2015, Jon Davis and Dan Blezek. All Rights Reserved.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Neither the software nor this documentation will provide detailed instructions on how to play the game Full Thrust. We are assuming that the player has copies of the various rulebooks and knows how to play the game. Similarly, we will not be including all the ship designs from Fleet Books I and II. The last thing we want to do is give anyone a reason NOT to buy Full Thrust books! GZG has posted their rulebooks online. Reading the FT Light gives a great introduction to FTJava.