First impressions

Home Forums Previous Months 15 – April 2018: Starflight First impressions

This topic contains 14 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Tijn Tijn 2 years, 10 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Tijn
    Tijn
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #1266

    I haven’t played this game yet, as the month has just started, but I’m keen to find out if any of you have any thoughts if you did get a chance to play!

    Pix
    Pix
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1267

    I’ve just spent a big chunk of my bank holiday Monday playing Starflight. Far longer than intended in fact so it clearly has that addictive quality.

    You definitely need to read the manual on this one. There is no indication as to what you are supposed to be doing in the game itself. Actually, I’ve been playing for hours and I’m still not sure myself. The only real brief is to boldly explore the galaxy. I figured I should treat it like an RPG and start out sticking close to home to earn money and beef up my ship and crew. I’ve spent my time mining minerals on planets and doing a tiny bit of exploring. I’ve yet to meet any alien life forms friendly or hostile.

    What I’ve seen so far doesn’t really resemble an RPG as there has been hardly any combat. It’s seems to be more about exploring all the planets and driving the little vehicle around trying to find minerals or alien ruins. There is certainly no shortage of planets to be going at and the universe makes Elite look small. I’ve raked in a decent amount of cash through mining. I think I’ll save a bit more up for some lasers then head out further afield.

    Considering how repetitive it is, I should be getting bored with the gameplay. I’m not sure why but I’m finding the mineral mining and learning how the game works strangely compelling. I am catching up on podcasts at the same time but I’m really liking this so far. I could see myself losing a whole lot of free time to Starflight this April.

    Some advice for anyone playing this. The save game system is seriously old school. The game doesn’t have any data files but essentially has an executable for each of the 5.25 floppies it came on. As you play, these executables are updated with the current state of the universe. The one and only savegame you get is apparently also stored in these executables and needs to agree with the universe state. The result of all this is that if you die in the game or want to load a savegame having cocked up, you can’t since the two states will vary. The hd installation from the two floppies actually creates two directories and you are supposed to manually copy the entire game into the save directory every time you save, then copy it back again if you want to load your game.

    If that sounds bad enough, anyone playing this on a floppy disk originally would presumably have to copy their disks every single time they saved their game. At least it’s nice and quick on a hard disk.

    Tijn
    Tijn
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #1268

    Wow, that save system is seriously old school. I wonder why they thought this is a good idea, because it seems extremely prone to error. In fact, the readme even states:

    “ALWAYS SAVE GAME TO END A SESSION. ESC BRINGS UP THE SAVE GAME MENU.
    NEVER REBOOT THE SYSTEM DURING A SESSION BECAUSE IT WOULD LEAVE THE STARFLIGHT FILES IN AN INCONSISTENT STATE.”

    I bet this led to a lot of phone calls to the support line back in the day ๐Ÿ˜€

    toasty
    toasty
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1270

    Wow. That save system sounds absurd! This sure will be interesting…


    vede
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1274

    There is actually a bit more guidance in it than to boldly explore the galaxy! If you go back to the Operations room in Starport, new notices will show up intermittently. The second one appears fairly soon in the game and suggests you to study some ruins of the old empire in a nearby star system. I haven’t gotten that far yet but according to everything I’ve read there is actually a fairly involved plot which you’re meant to follow by finding clues scattered around various star systems, and heeding the Interstel notices.

    Tijn
    Tijn
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #1281

    Ok, I’ve been playing for a bit and I must say that apart from the technical issues described above, I find this game extremely impressive. The UI isn’t actually that clunky, given the fact it’s so old. I’m glad only a handful of buttons are used, so it’s quite easy to figure out how to control the game.

    The game itself seems to be very ambitious. That landing sequence, in 3D and everything! Really something!

    Corgibuttz
    Corgibuttz
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1305

    Mmmm my favorite old game!

    To put a little explanation on the save system, from what I have read over the years, is that it wasn’t designed that way by desire, but out of necessity. To create so many systems and planets, they needed to have the planet surfaces be procedurally generated. Through some coding wizardry they managed to reduce the amount of space needed by creating the save system this way. With out this save system the game would have simply been too big to fit on the disks. The game fits on one 3.5 inch floppy, and I believe the save system was so the whole game could fit on the one disk.

    At least that’s what I remember reading a long time ago in Starflight fan forums.

    I know it’s clunky as all hell, and I have lost many a Starflight game to it. All I can suggest is BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP. About every hour I do a full save/quit. Back up the file, then relaunch the game.

    rnlf
    rnlf
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #1310

    Right, I think the whole game even fits on a double density (i.e. 720K) floppy. It is indeed impressive they made all the content fit!

    Tijn
    Tijn
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #1311

    I don’t even think high-density 1.44 MB floppy disks were invented by 1986 ๐Ÿ˜€

    Pix
    Pix
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1312

    The version I’m playing came on 2 5.25’s but I have obviously installed it to hard disk. I guess if you are saving the data along with the planets themselves, it still works when split across a couple of disks.

    There is a whole lot of game for so little data. I’ve started following the plot now. I won’t give too much away here but the clue that vede mentioned does point you toward somewhere else to go via a message in a ruin. I didn’t get all that far into that particular quest but ran into others when talking to some aliens who intercepted me along the way. The conversation system isn’t massively complicated but the aliens are really chatty once you get them started. There is way, way more text than I expected. A lot of it appears to just be for atmosphere/background but there are loads of clues to places to explore in there as well. This part of the game seems to be like one big treasure hunt.

    Corgibuttz
    Corgibuttz
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1313

    haha calling the game one big treasure hunt is a pretty accurate statement! It’s all about finding the clues, either in old ruins logs, or by coercing it out of the aliens. I’m so happy that everyone is seeming to have a good time so far. You have no idea how bad I would feel if you guys tried my suggested game and everyone was groaning on the forums about what a chore it was to play haha.

    I played for about 3 hours last night, but I did lose a 2 hour save. I guess it’s been so long I forgot you need to back up all of the .com files, not just Starflt.com. That’s fine though, because I was doing horribly! I had lost two landers in my first two hours LOL. I was really pushing my fuel limits and got caught in a few storms.

    If you’re low on energy, and have lost the ship, I advise waiting the storm out. Just hang out in Move mode, not moving, and wait for the storm to blow over. Unless you’re people are dying to a crazy lightning storm you should be fine.

    AngryDinosaur
    AngryDinosaur
    Participant
    #1318

    Afternoon. I am new to the Dos Game Club, and I am new to StarFlight. I picked up StarFlight 1 and 2 on GOG. I watched a quick let’s play before I jumped in and it really helped. I think without the lets play I would of been a little stumped.

    I love that the game has forced me to keep some hand written notes. My gaming setup now comprises of my MacBook, a pen, some post-it notes and a lined note book.

    I have now played StarFlight for around 4 hours (generating half-a-dozen post-it notes). I am genuinly loving it. I have had to restart around 5 times now and I am struggling with fuel management. Not including the time everyone died due to the overwhelming gravity of a planet, and the time a purple squid killed my landing party the other resets have been due to me running out of fuel!

    I’m going give it another long play tonight. I could really do with a printer so I can have a hard copy of the manual to hand.

    In summary I am enjoying the game. Thanks for introducing this game into my life.

    John

    Corgibuttz
    Corgibuttz
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #1319

    Welcome John! I’m glad you’re having fun w/ the game! I think the hand written notes are half the fun of the game! I usually have one big piece of printer paper that I just write my stuff down on, and sort of draw little boxes around to separate.

    You are right, starting w/o reading the manual is tough! As far as starting off and getting money for fuel, there is a planet in the space station’s home system which has fuel deposits on it. I spend my first hour or so mining the planet, and gathering fuel. This gave me enough money to max out my crews respective stats, and I had something like ~40 units of fuel before even leaving the home system.

    The system right next to the home system also has a great planet to mine on. I mined it for an hour or so last night and came away w/ about 150k space bucks. Enough to go buy Engines level 4, and then I maxed out every single one of my captains stats. I’m not sure if it helps, but it feels good to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So then you’re starting your real space travel w/ ~40 units of fuel, and really efficient engines.

    AngryDinosaur
    AngryDinosaur
    Participant
    #1320

    Thanks for the tips. On my second play I managed to mine some minerals from the planets in the same system and buy some fuel and upgrade my ship. Happy days!

    Another vital lesson I learnt tonight was to make sure I make a note of the landing site so I can return safely to my ship. “Everyone remember where we parked”.

    Tijn
    Tijn
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #1324

    The first time I played, I immediately lost my buggy because it ran out of fuel while trying to find where I had parked my spaceship, haha. Luckily you get a new one from the station, at a mere 10k.

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Home Forums Previous Months 15 – April 2018: Starflight First impressions