WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE STARFLIGHT UNIVERSE IN 2019?
Marvin Herbold is making significant progress with his modern Starflight 1 Remake in Unity. The project is open source and available on Github. A playable demo version is already available to download
Blake is more or less finished with an in-depth video review of all of the major Starflight projects on his YouTube channel, This includes many incomplete project demos never seen or made available before.
The Digital Antiquarian has a very detailed back story behind the making of Starflight
Starflight 1 & 2 is now available to download.
Starflight 1 launch codes PDF (formatted for mobile devices)
(Warning! This entire site is chock full of spoilers for the game!)
Starflight 1 was first released in 1986, over 21 years ago as of this writing. It was the very first open-ended simulation game of its type. Three years later two of the five original developers went on to create the sequel Starflight 2: Trade Routes of the Cloud Nebula. The interface of the sequel remained basically unchanged from the first game, adding only a few features such as trade centers and balancing out relative values of trade goods, lifeforms, and minerals to refine the resource gathering portion of the game.
Skipping ahead to 2005, Jason Horner and myself start collaborating on the Interstel Comm Center forums to reverse engineer both games. Data tables are decoded through trial and error and eventually the secrets of the original games are finally revealed. The start command for Starflight 1, starflt.com, remained unregistered as a web site domain name for all these years and ended up being the perfect repository for the continued discoveries in the inner workings of Starflight 1 and Starflight 2. Jason Horner later released his own summary of the discoveries in two separate Excel documents, which can be seen here and here. Nostalga for the original game with the desire to combine it with the features of the second lead to this project, a mod pushing the Starflight 2 engine as far as it would go inside of the Starflight 1 universe.
Stainless and migueletto continued the examination of the original code further and eventually broke down everything else. Stainless is almost finished creating his own remake of Starflight 1. Two programming teams are also working on their own sequels to the classic games, the Starflight 3 project and Starflight: The Lost Colony.
Capi3101 as recently finished and made available a pencil and paper role-playing game adaptation of Starflight. For more information, see the forum dedicated to this game.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- My current machine does not support the original Starflight 5.25in floppy disks. How can I download and install a copy of the game that will run under windows?
- When I exit the game it does not save my progress.
- Why does restoring a numbered save game with the batch file destroy my current saved game?
- How do I take screenshots with DOSBox?
- Why can't I find the screenshots I've taken inside of DOSBox?
- Why don't aliens communicate in Starflight 2?
- What are the differences between the Amiga/Mac versions and PC versions?
- What is a difference between the Genesis version of Starflight 1 and the other versions?
- What hotkeys control the Genesis emulator?
- Why can't I get rid of the Uhlek? (and other Genesis bugs)
- When I start a game, what should I do in starport and what do all the skills mean?
- Do I need to enter this launch code when leaving starport?
- The enclosed code wheel for Starflight 1 does not work under Windows 64
- Do I need to answer is this star map question when leaving starport in Starflight 2?
- Can you briefly describe how the in-game controls work?
- I can't find any minerals / lifeforms!
- How do I trade or find a trade center?
- Finding alien ships in space is slow and takes forever. Is there any quicker way to do this?
- Overview of mining in Starflight 1 and 2.
- Overview of lifeforms in Starflight 1 and 2.
- Overview of trading in Starflight 2.
- What are the differences between standard trade goods and specialty trade goods?
- Why won't an alien sell me a certain artifact or specialty trade good?
- Overview of artifacts in Starflight 1 and 2.
- Introduction to the Starflight 1 plot.
- Introduction to the Starflight 2 plot.
- Differences between the Starflight 1 Universe Mod and the Starflight 2 plot.
Three different collections of the Starflight games are available on this web site. All of them are packaged with emulation software to run on modern Windows systems. Their designation on the web site is more to indicate which platform the game was designed for originally rather than the platform needed to run them.
The oldest and most primitive versions of those games, but ironically the most often played and most bug free are the PC versions designed originally for DOS. Windows 64-bit users planning to play the original Starflight 1 will need Pat Shearon's code wheel, as the included 16-bit code wheel will not run in 64-bit environments.
Six different games are listed, each with their own collection of saved games in separate directories. When running any of the six games, you are first taken to a batch file saved game manager which lets you manage up to nine different save games at a time. Starflight 1 and 2 only save your game data when you exit the game (by pressing ESC) and return to this batch file menu. The batch file interface also completely prevents the infamous game corruption caused when closing the game without saving. If you close the DOS box window without saving your game, you will simply be rolled back to where you were when you last saved it. Unfortunately saving descriptions of each saved game are beyond this batch files capability, so you will have to keep track of each saved game yourself.
The batch file menus work by managing your "current state game" also known as your "lastsave." Remember you must first save your "lastsave" as a game number before you restore another game number or else you're current game will be overwritten by whichever game number you restore.
ALT-ENTER Full screen toggle.
CTRL-F5 Save a screenshot.
CTRL-F9 Kill dosbox.
CTRL-F11 Slowdown emulation.
CTRL-F12 Speedup emulation.
Define a custom capture folder before you attempt to take screenshots. (right-click, edit profile)
The original Starflight 1 is not timered, so you can speed up or slow down the emulation to whichever point you find comfortable. Starflight 2 has internal timing which can cause irregular game speeds, so the general guidelines for game timing are
Solar System Travel: Slow down the emulation until travel speed suddenly becomes very fast.
Terrain Vehicle: As fast as possible, but not too fast to prevent alien life forms from instantly killing your crew
Hyperspace: As fast as possible
Encounters: Very slow. If emulation is running too fast, aliens will not communicate. The same speed which works well for solar system travel will work well here.
Featuring much better graphics then the original PC versions, including a mouse interface, additional features, and real saved game manager, the Macintosh and Amiga versions of both Starflight 1 and Starflight 2 were released a few years after the PC version. A contributor who wished to remain anonymous packaged up and tweaked both Amiga games under the WinUAE interface and provided a link for users of this web site to download.
The details on this web site focus on the PC versions, and the Amiga versions have minor differences as far as many internal game mechanics are concerned. The simpler interface, better graphics, better saved game manager, and other features such as auto mineral pickup make this the recommended version for new players to download.
Hot keys are Ctrl-F11 to close the emulator and Ctrl-F12 to toggle fullscreen mode.
The Amiga version of Starflight 1 has a bug which allows users to obtain unlimited resources. First buy " 1000" Endurium (make sure you include the space), and then sell 990 back.
The Genesis version of Starflight 1 is a drastically different game than the previously mentioned versions. The basic plot and communications are essentially the same, but planets, combat, graphics, artifact functions, and the entire space flight interface is drastically different. Two annoying bugs exist in this version. Planetary weather has a tendency to literally blow away the terrain vehicle, and the quest method to "cripple" the Uhlek simply does not work. Other than the arcade feel and rough edges, this version is by far the most advanced version of the game available and is very playable.
For more Genesis Starflight 1 information, see the Unofficial Starflight Guide.
DEFAULT KEYBOARD CONTROLS
Arrow Keys for movement
START: Enter key
OTHER KEYBOARD HOTKEYS
Open Rom Ctrl + O
Boot CD Ctrl + B
Close Rom Ctrl + C
Open/Close Tray Ctrl + V
Game Genie Ctrl + G
Save Slot 0 to 9 Shift + 0 to Shift +9
Save State F5
Save State as Shift + F5
Previous state F6
Next State F7
Load State F8
Load State as Shift + F8
GCOffline (Optional) F1
Fast Blur F9
Previous Render Mode F11
Next Render Mode F12
Full-Screen / Window Mode Alt + Return
Stretch image Shift + F2
VSync Shift + F3
Force software blit Shift + F9
Perfect Synchro/Normal mode Ctrl + P
DAC sound (speech) improvement Shift + F10
PSG sound improvement Shift + F11
YM2612 high quality emulation Shift + F12
Screen shot Shift + Backspace
Hard Reset TAB
The one uniform aspect of all Starflight games is that some assembly is required before you can leave starport for the first time. The starport is divided into the following sections:
The command center of Interstel. Essential and not so essential notices are delivered here over time. Evaluation rewards and penalize you for certain events, such as recommending colony worlds, obtaining a new terrain vehicle, major plot events, etc.
You must hire and name between one to six crew members and give them training for the roles they will perform. Remember that each race has different initial and maximum training skill levels, and that a high initial level reflects a high maximum skill level. A fully trained navigator is essential, science and communication less essential, and engineering and doctor skills rarely used. In Starflight 1, keep in mind that a Thrynn crewmember prevents contact with the Elowan and vice versa.
In the Starflight 1 Universe Mod, only a Dweenle crewmember can have the maximum science skill-level, and only a G'Nunk crew member can have maximum navigation skill-level. Durability of your crew is very important when you first start a game and plan on capturing lifeforms. Note that the android has a durability far surpassing the other races (20) and the android's navigation and engineering skill (200) although fixed, are more than adequate. It is therefore highly recommended to keep an android engineer throughout most of the game.
Here you assign jobs to each of the crewmembers you hired in personnel. Note that the captain's position is a figurehead and is meaningless.
As the name suggests, this is where you buy repair minerals, buy, sell, or analyze artifacts, (and in Starflight 1) sell minerals, buy fuel, and sell fuel.
Very simple procedure, sell off everything and buy a full role of cargo pods and the best engines you can buy. Starflight 2: Make sure you save some money to purchase trade goods, unless you plan to immediately start capturing lifeforms to earn the additional money you need. SF1 Universe: Outrageous prices are not really that outrageous. Class 5 missiles have increased in power as well as price. Class 5 lasers do 50% more damage then plasma bolts.
After beaming to the ship, choose Captain then Launch to leave starport.
In the original Starflight 1 games, the starport both figuratively and literally the center of the universe, and you'll end up returning to constantly to analyze artifacts, sell minerals, and repair and upgrade your ship. Every time you leave the starport in Starflight 1 you are asked for a code, and this copy protection has remained unbroken for now 21 years. You can obtain the launch code you need to avoid the space police directly from the Starflt.com web site under starport codes, or you can use the included "SF1 Code Wheel" or you can download Pat Shearon's code wheel. Starflight 2 including the SF1 Universe Mod will ask you to verify a number of stars when you launch, but you can safely ignore this prompt by typing any number you want.
The game is essentially a space simulator. After launching from starport, the first thing you will notice is that everything is menu-driven. The ship interface is used for solar system travel, interstellar or hyperspace travel, and an encounter view used for both communications and combat. When the ship lands on a planet and the crew disembark, the interface is changed to a terrain vehicle view. However simplistic, these two interfaces give the player access to an enormously detailed and complex universe.
The ship interface may be slow and clumsy by today's standards, but it is internally consistent and condenses quite a bit of functionality. The navigator maneuvers the ship, fires weapons, etc. and the navigator's skill affects everything under the navigation menu. The science officer scans alien ships and planets, the engineer repairs the ship and so on. Other miscellaneous functions which don't fit anywhere else are stored under the captain menu, such as taking off or landing on planets, logging planets for colonization, and handling cargo inventory.
From the solar system you can choose to either travel to another system by moving to the edge of the solar system map or move over a planet in order to orbit and land on it. Hyperspace travel, combat, and landing on planets are the only times when ship fuel is used. Travel in hyperspace is far more fuel-efficient with higher class engines or when utilizing worm holes known in game as continuum fluxes. Once you have traveled through a continuum flux, it will remain visible on the star map. The SF1 Universe Mod is the exception here, displaying all fluxes visible on the map from the beginning of the game.
Planetary surfaces are fractal patterns which remain perfectly consistent from one game to the next, but each planet has an enormous amount of surface area. Land in a mountainous region and your terrain vehicle will use up much more energy and you'll find large numbers of minerals but few lifeforms. Land near the ocean and you will find watery areas scattered everywhere, lifeforms in plenty, but no minerals to be found.
The terrain vehicle interface is far simpler one consisting of a single menu to perform all functions. To pick up minerals or lifeforms, stop the terrain vehicle either on top of or in a adjacent square and go to the cargo menu. The same technique applies to entering trade centers on inhabited planets. Be careful of lifeforms even if you are not collecting them. Many lifeforms are so sessile, others are constantly moving and many others will approach and attack your crew. Also keep track of the terrain vehicle's energy remaining. You must find your ship again on the map to return to it and running out of energy for getting lost in a planetary storm makes that much more difficult.
In Starflight 2 planets with a sentient culture will have housing, terrain vehicles, and occasional trade centers scattered on the landscape. To find a trade center, make sure you land in an area of moderate elevation. Too close to water, and the water areas will prevent trade centers from appearing. Too high elevation, and your terrain vehicle may run out of fuel before finding one.
The SF1 Universe Mod has all inhabited planets set to very dense population densities, making it easier to find trade centers then it was in Starflight 2.
In space and in hyperspace alien encounters are frequent occurrences. Aliens start at fixed locations at the beginning of the game but slowly drift around as they chase your ship. Encounters may only occur when the game's internal clock increases every other hour, so this only occurs infrequently by accident. This also somewhat mitigates the fact that alien ships are invisible on your screen until they run into yours. Finding alien vessels repeatedly is easier if you remain in one fixed location and wait for the alien ship to find you. One good trick is to orbit a planet, leave orbit, and stay parked in that one position just "north" of the planet waiting till the alien vessel reaches you. If you want to encounter the same ship again after it is sick of talking to you for one encounter, simply go "south", hit the planet again, and go "north" and you'll encounter them instantly again with no tiresome delay.
Just like in real life, most of your time in Starflight will be spent earning money. Fortunately the IRS is only implemented in Starflight 3. Obtaining resources is primarily is designed to obtain fuel and upgrade your ship as well as train your crew, but you can choose any way to do so and spend as much or little time on the following methods as you want.
In Starflight 1 this is how you spend a decent amount of your initial gameplay time. Quite a few planets in the Starflight 1 universe contain countless ruins which fuel can be obtained from. The starport at Arth is more than eager to buy out everything collected by the player making mineral and endurium collection from either planetary services or destroyed alien ships very profitable.
For more information check out the Starflight 1 mining tips.
MINERALS (STARFLIGHT 2)
Collecting minerals at first glance would appear to be an easy moneymaker in this game is well. Unfortunately most planets in the Starflight 2 universe are mineral poor, and is difficult to find buyers for those minerals once you obtain them since starport is not purchasing minerals anymore. Planets also have a certain higher percentage of certain types of minerals, as seen by the science officer's sensor scans, but once on the planet surface, varieties of minerals of all different types can be found, making it difficult to find a buyer for all of them.
Pirates may think that salvaging minerals from space battles could be profitable, but unfortunately alien races only use inexpensive minerals to build their ships. The valuable minerals, worth between 2000 and 5000 per meter cubed (SF1 Universe only) can only be found by mining and then searching for a buyers for those minerals.
One useful artifact exists in the game that makes this easier, the minimal drone. This useful device will automatically seek out and mine minerals while you are on the planet surface doing something else. This artifact can only be found in one place in the game and as of yet no one knows which minerals are extremely valuable and which ones aren't.
Starflight 1 lifeforms are fairly useless since only lifeforms obtained from planets distant from Arth are valuable. By the time you have obtained class 5 engines and can travel across the sector, is unlikely that you will be worrying about obtaining resources anymore. In the Genesis version of Starflight 1 this has been resolved and lifeforms are uniformly valuable no matter where you collect them.
In Starflight 2 and the SF1 Universe Mod, collecting lifeforms to sell is one of the quickest ways of making a profit, especially since every alien race will be guaranteed to purchase at least one the lifeforms on their old home planet, eliminating the problem of searching out a buyer. As you might guess, the more dangerous lifeforms are the more lucrative. Dangerous forms can be stunned by the terrain vehicle's weapon or an artifact known as the field stunner. Unfortunately the duration of the stun varies from one creature to the next. Having a full sized roster of crew will guarantee that attacks are spead between crew members, and having a number of nearly indestructible (20 durability) and easily replaceable androids along would not hurt either.
Standard trade goods will always have a buyer and a seller. Buying low-priced goods especially in a depressed economy and then turning around and selling them on another planet in preferably an inflated economy is always guaranteed to turn a profit. Read an alien race's culture synopsis beforehand or scan their trade center before entering to ensure they barter before trying to haggle with them however.
TRADING SPECIALTY TRADE GOODS
Specialty trade goods usually only have a single buyer and a single seller. Unfortunately that one buyer may be located across the galaxy or may not even exist, so make sure you know who you are selling to before spending a fortune buying a large quantity of an item. Specialty trade goods are always sold at a profit and values are completely independent of the planet's economy. Selling desired trade goods to certain races will unlock the purchase of other specialty trade goods and occasionally unlock the purchase of powerful artifacts to upgrade your ship. Large amounts of money are tied up in the exchange of specialty trade goods but also can provide enormous profits in the long-term.
Those who learned and remember profitable trading goods in Starflight 2 will notice that all of the specialty goods in the Starflight 1 Universe Mod have all been completely renamed and completely redistributed around the alien races. Trade goods which no one would buy in Starflight 2 are now valuable, while others are now useless junk.
Trade restrictions are now a great deal higher as well, and over 50% of the specialty trade goods which do have buyers are not available for sale unless you provide a desired specialty trade good to them. It is now essential to keep track of which alien races will buy and sell which trade goods in order to find a way to "break into" the specialty trade good market. Less patient traders can always check starflt.com of course for spoilers. No matter which you do, it is highly recommended to never complete the sell off each specialty good so you can always keep a very small quantity on your ship. You never know when 0.1 cm^3 of a previously collected trade good will unlock the purchase of a valuable artifact.
PC VERSIONS OF STAR FLIGHT 1 & 2
Simply load the versions that start with 1 million.
PC VERSION OF STAR FLIGHT 1
Go to the third planet in the Arth system, locate an ancient ruin with 9.0-9.9 CM of endurium, pick it up, launch and leave orbit, and then immediately reenter orbit and land on the same coordinates to pick up the same quantity of endurium again and again.
PC VERSION OF STAR FLIGHT 2
Find an alien race that buys and sells the exact same thing from their trade depot that you already have in inventory. Standard goods work well. Purchase 0.1 cm for 65535 per cm, and then sell off your entire inventory of that item for the same exorbitant price that you set when buying it.
AMIGA VERSION OF STAR FLIGHT 1
To obtain unlimited resources in the Amiga version of Starflight 1, first buy " 1000" Endurium, and then sell 990 back.
GENESIS VERSION OF STAR FLIGHT 1
Land on the planet and capture any life forms that are present. Return to the spaceport and sell the captured creatures. Leave the space port and immediately return. The life forms will re-appear in the cargo hold. Sell the creatures and repeat this process to accumulate an unlimited amount of money.
Artifacts greatly increase the exploratory and combat capabilities of your ship. Starflight 1 artifacts are primarily collected from planetary surfaces and are discovered by collecting and figuring out hints given by alien races and messages on planets. As you play through the game, you will generally continue to find additional artifacts through the process of exploring of the galaxy.
The general path taken to obtain all of the artifacts in Starflight 1 can be seen by viewing the artifact search path page on the Starflight 1 tables. Spoilers to list the location and function of every artifact can be found on the top of the Starflight 1 tables page.
The only way to obtain most artifacts in Starflight 2 and the Starflight 1 Universe Mod is by buying and selling specialty goods in an exact order between three or more alien races. Many valuable combat enhancing artifacts such as the Legkh Battle Jumper can be purchased in this way. Other valuable artifacts include the psychic probe, the system scanner, the field stunner, and the planetary teleporter among others.
See the discussion about trading specialty goods for further information. The Starflight 2 artifact page and the SF1 Universe artifact page lists the final location where these artifacts can purchased. Unfortunately in several cases between 1 to 5 different trades will need to take place first before these artifacts can be purchased.
Starflight 1 started the tradition, continued in Starflight 2, of handing the player an important quest in an open ended galaxy which requires quite a bit of searching but very few actual "tasks" to be performed. The mission of Starflight 1 is outlined in a notice from starport only given to the player on the second day of the month, which the player will not see until after completing at least one resource gathering excursion.
The plot begins with the explanation that Arth's star is going to flare at any unknown time in the future, killing off all life on your home planet. Soon after you discover that not only Arth's sun, but all the stars in the region are systematically exploding, vaporizing planetary ecosystems and slowly and methodically extinguishing all life in the galaxy. Questioning alien races and recovering messages from ruins on planets slowly reveals the historical events all shape by the pattern of flaring stars throughout history and through the entire galaxy. Clues from modern and ancient history mixed in equal part of truth and falsehood lead the player back and forth across the galaxy following leads, collecting clues, and obtaining powerful artifacts from many sources which progressively increase power and ability of your ship until you can perform the steps necessary to save all life in the galaxy from extinction.
Starflight 2 starts off almost 20 years after the first game with the same protagonist now in a different area of the galaxy. The cowardly Spemin, barely an annoyance in the first game, have obtained several powerful new technologies making them a deadly threat to the continued freedom of your planet in the original sector. The same theme of resource gathering while attaining powerful artifacts to upgrade your ship is used equally well in this game with the inclusion of a new bartering system.
The Starflight 1 Universe Mod obviously follows the identical storyline of Starflight 2 within the placement of the Starflight 1 sector. Communication text may often disclosed the wrong location. This may be fixed in a future version, but for now the spoiler tables on Starflt.com will give you the entire list of locations. Purists can lookup the Starflight 1 tables instead and explore that list of locations since whenever possible those locations were reused in the remake.
The only substantial difference in the plot is that the UHL has two nerve centers both in the present, and can be attacked at either one. A ring of fleets surrounds each nerve center guarding it from hyperspace. When this point in the plot is reached, iIt is only a matter of choosing to fight either the Umanu or the Uhlek fleets. Class 5 lasers are more effective against the Umanu but either lasers or plasma bolts are effective against the more dangerous Uhlek.