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Community TBL Looks Back at Starflight

Saint_Proverbius

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Tags: Electronic Arts; Starflight

Turn Based Lovers has a retrospective about the venerable Starflight, a game from 1986 which pushed the envelope in terms of a sci-fi, exploration space CRPG. Believe it or not, that was a decent little sub-genre at one point, before studios decided fantasy was really the only setting to make the money.

Starflight starts with the main characters in a circular spaceship – ready to set off towards the stars. First, however, the player gather a team of different specialists – classic RPG style. These brave explorers are to discover what’s happening in the universe. The journey won’t be peaceful. Soon, it’ll be clear that their ultimate task is preventing a powerful foe from destroying all planets. Despite this, the adventure is entirely non-linear: it is up to the player where to go and what to do. The gameplay consists of exploring space; docking on planets; extracting precious minerals – vital for fuelling the ship; and interacting with the aliens. It is possible to fight anyone, but this isn’t the best strategy. Good communication is an essential skill here.

This was developed back before Electronic Arts turned evil. I remember being a kid and actually looking for their logo when I was game shopping because I knew they made and published fairly quality stuff. I put them on par with SSI, Bullfrog Productions and so on.

If you're thinking, "Hey, those were great! I'd love to play those games again!", it and the sequel are available on Good Old Games.
 

KeighnMcDeath

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Indeed! Before EOA EA became THE EVIL EMPIRE!
3hd0rv.gif

Electronic-Arts-Old.png


Before they opened the cube, the sphere, the tetrahedron. Before unlocking the secrets of Square, Circle, Triangle.
Hello Cookie the Secretary..
HTb5Yd8.png

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V1nfDl9.png

cT5oO8H.png


Hmmm.. the barmaid too?
ZwoKeor.png

6KmZLNv.png


Who sort of looks like the mermaid?
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And rings of power looks similar... as we've seen.
2mKmbTh.png

3b9AbbL.png


I swear that dude had a thing for someone in the office who I'll assume is the secretary.. dude likes blondes.

Have another Cookie
uqkMKr5.png
 
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Genesis version is much different(inferior in my opinion.) Amiga version has improvements over the PC version.

I've never played the game, so I can't say which version is better, but I find its game mechanics very interesting.
If you have a source on the difference that we can dig into, share it.

http://www.starflt.com/tables
AMIGA VERSIONS

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.

GENESIS VERSION

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.
 

KeighnMcDeath

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Yeah, that pissed me off about the Uhlek. Oh the weather in the gen version. Lol, so many times them damn tornadoes. I never had the amiga version so I should try this.

 
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oldmanpaco

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AMIGA VERSIONS

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.

Imagine playing Starflight with a mouse and not Ironman.
 

Morpheus Kitami

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Feels like the article goes over ground that most people who know of the game already know. Not that that's a bad thing, its a pretty good game, outside of the combat IIRC. Had no idea the Genesis version was so different though, practically looks like a different game.
 

KeighnMcDeath

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Those electronic arts genesis manuals were pretty thick for sone games.
Some more quick amiga:



Besides the amiga vs genesis there isn't a real good comparison vid like thd might & magic one I had. Pity as key points broken would be great.




I couldn't find a short vid on megadrive SF ship to ship combat. I noticed the atv in the amiga/pc had some other options sega gen did not have. Well damn again.
 
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Rincewind

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Indeed! Before ECA EA became THE EVIL EMPIRE!

I remember EA was actually considered to be a highly prestigious company back in the C64 and Amiga days. When you saw their logo in the intro, it was a sure sign of quality. Well, Bullfrog surely played a large part in that. Fun fact: I sent their UK division some "fan mail" when I was a kid; essentially, I was asking for free shit, and they sent me some nice catalogues and an ultra-cool Populous poster that adorned my wall for many years (I sent basically the same letter to a few other companies, but they were the only ones I heard back from).

Amiga version has improvements over the PC version.

That's true, but it runs much slower on stock Amigas (emulated or hardware) compared to the PC version. The AmigaLove guy wrote a nice review about the game, plus figured out a way how to speed it up on real hardware (he even completed the game that way). The method works just as well in WinUAE, I tried; you just keep the CPU at the default 68000 (or 020/030, doesn't really matter), and override the emulated clock frequency to 40MHz (50 works too).

 

Saint_Proverbius

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plus figured out a way how to speed it up on real hardware (he even completed the game that way)

There's some people that figured out how to use a Raspberry Pi as an Amiga accellerator. I thought it was pretty interesting considering a lot of those Amiga accellerators are $400+.



Seems to work pretty well, too.

I remember EA was actually considered to be a highly prestigious company back in the C64 and Amiga days.

EA was one of the companies involved in killing off the Amiga, which is really shitty considering I doubt EA would have ever gotten big if it weren't for Commodore. Basically, console companies and some game companies like EA all got together to agree to not develop for the Amiga specifically in order to increase sales of consoles in America and Europe.
 

Rincewind

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There's some people that figured out how to use a Raspberry Pi as an Amiga accellerator. I thought it was pretty interesting considering a lot of those Amiga accellerators are $400+.

Heh, that's some extremely cool piece of hardware hackery! I bought a real Cyberstorm mkII 060/128MB for about 600 USD in 2002 for my A4000 (which I sold since then, *sniff*); it wasn't exactly cheap back then either.

This is quite surreal, it's actually *more* surreal than PCem communicating with a real ISA VGA card via USB...



console companies and some game companies like EA all got together to agree to not develop for the Amiga specifically in order to increase sales of consoles in America and Europe

Didn't know that, and that's quite disgusting. Still, at least they published quite good games until about the 90s, but maybe their talent was only in making deals with the right dev studios, like Bullfrog.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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I bought a real Cyberstorm mkII 060/128MB for about 600 USD in 2002 for my A4000 (which I sold since then, *sniff*); it wasn't exactly cheap back then either.

That's where they got the name "PiStorm". I was wondering because I'd never heard of the Cyberstorm accelerators. I'd heard of the Vampire ones, at least I think that was what they were called.

It's kind of interesting though, that back in the day, people just dealt with things like Starflight's planet landing thing being that slow. That would never be allowed in a game today. Then again, I remember playing Quake on a 486DX2/66 until I got a pentium, and it was in a tiny window on the screen just to get 15fps and I considered that "playable".

It's still crazy to think that back then, games like Star Command and Starflight were main stream AAA releases, and no major studio these days would dare to make games like that. They don't even do things like those games if they already have a license like Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica when it was hot, and so on. There's several indie titles that attempt games of that scope, but having to scale things based on the abilities of a small team.
 

Rincewind

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That's where they got the name "PiStorm". I was wondering because I'd never heard of the Cyberstorm accelerators. I'd heard of the Vampire ones, at least I think that was what they were called.

Yeah, so the Blizzard IV 030/50MHz by Phase5 was the ubiquitous A1200 accelerator everybody who could afford one had; it made your A1200 twice as fast as a stock A3000!

The Cyberstorm Mk2 060/50Mhz was the elite-level, a very pricy accelerator board for your quite expensive Amiga 4000. People talked about it in hushed tones, and scoring one was akin to finally being able to get your hands on a Galactic Hyperdrive in Elite! It was the absolute top -- there was nowhere else to go from there.

Naturally, when I had the means and opportunity to get one around 2002, I couldn't resist. Watching all those scene demos requiring 060/50Mhz on a real A4000 paired with a C=1084S monitor was quite an experience.



It's still crazy to think that back then, games like Star Command and Starflight were main stream AAA releases, and no major studio these days would dare to make games like that. They don't even do things like those games if they already have a license like Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica when it was hot, and so on. There's several indie titles that attempt games of that scope, but having to scale things based on the abilities of a small team.

That sums up the problem, pretty much. Back then you had small(ish) teams with never-seen-before blockbuster budgets, and they could do whatever. Today, you have the massive teams with blockbuster budgets cranking out "safe", derivative shit, then you have the small teams with next to no budgets. There are still lots of devs with good ideas, but the market conditions have drastically changed.

Personal computers (not consoles) were almost exclusively owned by adults or nerdy kids with higher-than-average IQs. It was natural and expected in Amiga and PC circles to be intimately familiar with the various hardware options, even if you weren't a particularly nerdy coder/engineer type of person. Anyone can do the maths and figure out the rest from there...

Still, our best hope is people like VD, Cleve, and small studios such as Almost Human, Cyanide, Piranha Bytes, Atom Team, etc.
 

Metro

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Starflight 2 was one of my personal favorites back in t3h day. Surprisingly deep mechanics for the early age of gaming. Weren't some of the devs trying to make a Starflight 3 somewhat recently?
 

Tweed

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Starflight 2 was one of my personal favorites back in t3h day. Surprisingly deep mechanics for the early age of gaming. Weren't some of the devs trying to make a Starflight 3 somewhat recently?

As I recall off the top of my head there have been several attempts. I followed one way the hell back in the late 90s, but I can't remember who was trying to get it off the ground.

I had the Genesis version of the game which apparently is quite different from the computer ones. There was a huge manual, mostly taken up by a hint section written out as a story of what to do if you got stuck, complete with color illustrations of the various races and black and white images of all the artifacts.
 

gaussgunner

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Starflight 2 was one of my personal favorites back in t3h day. Surprisingly deep mechanics for the early age of gaming. Weren't some of the devs trying to make a Starflight 3 somewhat recently?
Me too. I know the Star Control devs (some of the same guys) are working on a sequel now...
 
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