VGA Planets 4 is a turn-based, multiplayer PbeM game for the PC, produced by Tim Wisseman. It's a typical 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit & eXterminate) : players normally start with one planet. The whole 2 dimensional map is visible, but players have to fly to other planets to see what kind and quantities of raw materials and what sort of climate it has (explore). Also, other players are only visible for as far as they fly in open space within visual distance. Players quickly claim nearby planets (expand) and start mining for minerals, needed to fuel their fleet and build new ships (exploit). Players can build unarmed freighters but also a war fleet, needed to attack their fellow players (exterminate).
The host of the game has a wide array of possibilities to set what action earn how many victory points and what sort of scenario to play. As such, it's not possible to describe how to win the game, but in general, it's a variation of conquering other player's empires.
Each player has to choose one of the 21 unique races (and 4 new are mentioned on the VGA Planets 4 wiki to be under development as of Jan 2011), all of them based on Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (the old & new TV series - 2 different races). Names are altered, probably for copyright issues, so Darth Vader &co is refered to as the Evil Empire, while the Cylons are the Robots.
The base game has an option for AI, but the game is meant to be a multiplayer PbeM. As such, AI is secondary.
In all, VGA-P4 has retained many of the features found in VGA-P3, but more and better: 30 players instead of 11, 21 playable races in stead of 11 and planetary systems much more detailed, fleet combat finally possible (in 3, all fights were 1-on-1).
The game can be downloaded as shareware, which is a limited version. A registration key can also be bought via the site, unlocking every feature.