Atlantis Gamemaster's Guide

This document describes how to compile, setup, and run a game of Atlantis.

Compiling Atlantis

Atlantis is a standard C++ program, with no UI or other platform-specific features. As such, simply putting all of the source files into a project or makefile and compiling it as a command-line application is about all there is to it. Note that there are source files in two directories; the basic Atlantis engine files live in the main directory, and the rule-set specific files are in a sub-directory. You need to include both sets of source files in the makefile. The sample Atlantis rule-set is called Atlantis Conquest, and is in the sub-directory conquest.


A makefile is included for compilation on Unix, using the GNU gcc compiler. This has only been tested on Linux, but should probably work on any Unix system. Just switch into the rule-set sub-directory and type 'make'. You can get more information about the GNU compiler at


I am now using the GNU gcc compiler on Windows as well. This has the advantage that I can use it on both Unix and Windows, and as an added bonus the compiler is freely available. As above, just switch into the rule-set subdirectory and type 'make'. The Win32 port of gcc can be found at

I'm no longer using Visual C++, so I don't include a Visual C++ makefile. If someone wants to create a makefile for others to use, I'll be happy to put it on the download page.

However, it is very easy to make a VC project to compile Atlantis:

  1. Choose a rule-set that you want to compile. For instance, the Atlantis Conquest rule-set is in the subdirectory conquest.

  2. Create a 'Console Application' Workspace in the rule-set directory.

  3. Add all of the Atlantis engine source files to the project. These are all of the .cpp files located in the main directory.

  4. Add all of the rule-set specific source files; these are all of the .cpp files in the rule-set directory.

  5. Update the include path to include both the main directory and the rule-set directory.

  6. That's it; you should be able to compile Atlantis at this point. You'll probably want to compile the 'Checked' version in case you want to debug.

Running a Game of Atlantis

The Atlantis program is actually very simple in terms of input and output. It takes a set of files as input, runs the turn, and writes out a set of files to the same directory. The Atlantis program does not do anything in terms of scanning for email, sending email, or anything of that nature. It is up to the gamemaster to either make sure the files are in the right place, and the right emails get sent out, or he must find or write a program to do that.

Explanation: Atlantis is designed to be a very generic program, that will run on many computer systems, and in different ways. Different computer systems handle email in different ways; making Atlantis work on all of these different systems would be quite a task, and in my opinion one that is best separated from the actual game-running program. Further, nothing about Atlantis requires that it be an email game at all; the engine could be used in many different ways (a web-based version, for instance, wouldn't be too hard to do).

The rest of this section assumes that the gamemaster is moving the files around by hand; if he is using a program to automate the process, he should follow the instructions with that program.

Setting Up the Game

Generally, I find it best to make a directory to run a game of Atlantis, and then store each turn as a sub-directory. To start the game, make the directory game, and the subdirectory game/turn.0. Change the current directory to be game/turn.0 (Atlantis uses the current directory to find any files it is looking for), and run the program atlantis new (note that the actually program name may well be something different, depending on how you compiled it). This will output the files game.out and players.out; these are the initial game database and game status file. At this point, you are ready to prepare for the first turn; follow the instructions below for how to prepare and run a turn.

Running a Turn

To set-up a turn, first make the directory for the turn (i.e. game/turn.1), and copy the previous turn's game.out and players.out into place as the new and At this point, you can edit the file to add or remove players from the game.

The file will be in the following format:

Version: 262144
TurnNumber: 1
GameStatus: Running

Faction: 1
Name: Merry Pranksters (1)
Password: none
Faction: 2
Name: Evil Faction (2)
Password: none

This file will be your primary method of communicating with the Atlantis program. The first 2 lines tell Atlantis that this is a game status file, and what version of the Atlantis engine was used to write this file. The next line indicates the last turn that was run, and the GameStatus: line indicates the current status of the game (the 3 settings of GameStatus: are "New", "Running", and "Finished"). None of the first four lines should be modified by the gamemaster.

Next in the file comes a list of the factions in the game, and some information about the faction. You can perform the following actions on a faction using this file:

  1. You can change the name, email address, or password for the faction. Note that there are in-game methods for doing this as well (the ADDRESS order, for instance), but it is preferable to change things in the file. This is because the in-game methods do not take effect until the next turn is run; whereas editing the file is immediate.

  2. You can remove a faction from the game. Do this by adding the line "Order: Quit" to the faction's section of the file.

  3. You can add silver to a faction's unclaimed fund by adding the line "Reward: [amount]" to the faction's section of the file.

  4. Any other lines within a faction's section will be kept in the players.out file when a turn is run, so you can store extra information about a faction in this file. For instance, if you wish to implement an Atlantis Times newsletter feature, you can add a line "Times: on" or "Times: off" to each faction's section indicating whether they wish to receive the Times or not.

  5. You can add a faction to the game by making a new faction section, leading with the line "Faction: New". It isn't required that you fill in the email address and password, but it's probably always a good idea. After the turn is run, the faction will be assigned a faction number, and will be present in the players.out file.

Also before running a turn, players will probably want to issue orders for their faction. Orders should be put into the turn directory (game/turn.1, in our example), with the filename orders.[num], where [num] is the faction number. This file should be a proper Atlantis order file, with the #atlantis line at the beginning of the orders and #end at the end. Note that new factions cannot issue orders for their faction.

Once the file has been updated, and any orders are in place for the turn, you are ready to run the Atlantis program. Do this by changing into the turn directory (recall that Atlantis only looks for files in the current directory), and issue the command atlantis run. (Again, note that the actual executable name depends on how you compiled the program). This will run the turn, generating the files game.out, players.out, and report.[num] for each faction in the game. Each report file can then be sent to its owner, and you are ready to set-up for the next turn.

Syntax Checker

The Atlantis program can also act as a syntax checker for a set of orders. Run the program atlantis check [orders] [check], where the actual program name is the program that you compiled. [orders] should be the filename of the orders file, and [check] will be the filename that is created, containing the results of the syntax check. If you have a program that automatically handles email, players often appreciate getting a copy of the syntax check results whenever they send in orders.

As of version 4.0.5, the syntax checker behaves slightly differently. To run the syntax checker, change the current directory to be the turn directory (game/turn.1 in our example), and run the program with arguments as atlantis check [orders] [check] (of course, the executable name depends on how you compiled the program). [orders] should be the filename of the incoming email file (this can be the raw email message, or whatever other type of files you expect). When the syntax checker is run, it will create a file [check] that contains the results of the syntax check, suitable for returning to the player who submitted the orders. The program will also create valid orders files for any orders found in the [orders] file. The orders file will have the name orders.[num], where [num] is the faction number for the orders; note that this is the filename that the atlantis run command expects, making it convenient to use the syntax checker to parse incoming email messages. The syntax checker will check that the orders contain a valid password, and will check the basic syntax of the orders, but will not check unit numbers or anything else that would require reading the game database.

Game Editing

The Atlantis program can also be used to edit the game database. To use the game editor, change the current directory to be the turn directory (like game/turn.1), and run the command atlantis edit. This will present a rudimentary text interface to change some parts of the game, such as unit possessions. When done editing, you can either quit without saving changes, or save and exit. If you choose the save changes, a new game database file game.out will be created; to use this file as the new game database file, move the file to, replacing the old file.

Last Modified: December 19, 2002

This page maintained by Geoff Dunbar (