Chosen Space – Probably not your best choice

Before I start and not sure if there’s a disclaimer on this site. The views expressed here are purely my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the owner of this site.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this game, and given my glowing review from when I first started, it saddens me to give such a critical review. This has been prompted by growing discord with decisions made by the developer and his following blindly suggestions made by some members of it’s community, whose sole interest is to change game mechanics to suit their own agenda.

So let’s start with what has happened since I first started playing. I had settled into the role of trader and eventually ran for planetary leader of the one of 84 planets available as a choice. Won’t go much into the details of how you win an election, as this post is more a rant. There was a bug with starbases in the game, which allowed you to store unlimited amounts of items. Person and faction I was running against was using this exploit to in effect win the elections. Sad thing is, the developer took several months to fix the bug, and that was almost the end of CS for me, as I didn’t see any other viable career for me in the game.

Now, there was always some conflict in the game, and an opening appeared in the special operations branch of the faction. All hush hush at what was actually done, but I joined that group and was given several warships to complete tasks we were assigned to do. In peacetime, we’d track and kill targets that were a nuisance to the faction and in war time, we’d gather Intel and provide support for our militia. Our faction was primarily an economic based faction, but when war broke out that activity would cease and everyone was called to arms. Our tasks usually involved finding targets, knocking out shields or knocking ships out of docks for others to kill. Game mechanics were heavily in favor of the attacker, and at that time, if you were running a script to run an operation called scrubbing ions, you were pretty much guaranteed to get away. The developer eventually made a good change there and got rid of that, replacing with something more realistic based on the output of your ship, with trails from larger output ships lasting longer.

After a few wars, more changes were made among them a multi-faction feature. It was more a hindrance than a feature which allowed you to switch factions at will and attack under the flag of an alternate faction. That went on for some time and during that time, game was leaking players like a sieve with more leaving than joining. It was also becoming apparent that resources and items owned by players was piling up. This is just my opinion, but under the guise of game being hacked, the developer decided to wipe out everyones resources stored in their starbases. Unless you had already assembled your ores and resources into ship parts and had them stored in your dry dock or shipyard, all was lost. No ships are physical assets were lost, as the developer claimed that was backed up and that all the hacker managed to do was delete contents of the storage bases. How convenient!

Ships have always been expensive to make and buy in the game, given that you need to vote to acquire the points or donate real life money, severely unbalancing things for the casual gamer, or someone who can’t afford to donate. Several changes were made on how points were earned. One such change was to no longer give out points in the several games that were being run by the developer and to give them out just in the hub account which was linked to all the games being run. That effectively forced people to chose just one game, and pretty much killing off most of the less popular games. Now I had mentioned earlier some good changes were made regarding combat. Unfortunately it came at a price added to cost of ships. New devices were introduced called externals to make ships more expensive, but also easier to get away. Changes were also made to the game mechanics of beacons, the way a faction knows ships of other members are being attacked. Now operations outside of planetary systems only had beacons sent out to ships in the actual area of operation. And the already unfavorable advantage to attacker gets tipped even more in their favor.

Now back to the community and some player’s self serving interests in suggestions under the guise of game improvements. Eventually the multi-faction feature got removed. Well that’s what the developer says… It really just go renamed to ambassadorship, where you can be ambassador to another faction. Here lies the stupidity of the whole system. There is a limit on how many factions you can join as ambassador, but an entire faction can become ambassador in another faction. Now wait, being ambassador to a faction comes with features, I’d sooner call exploits. As ambassador to a faction, you’re granted free passage through that factions minefields. So you’re free to attack anyone you wish with full diplomatic immunity and should they follow you through any such minefield. Now even worst, and I won’t mention factions here. Minefields were present for over a year, without anyone bringing up that there may be a problem with size of fields built. A new war breaks out, and a faction that hasn’t yet used minefields decides they should look into them as a defensive option and once deployed, it now becomes an issue that minefields are over powered and for the good of the game!

It was a great game while it lasted, but it’s just not fun to play any longer! I’d suggest if you play one of the developer’s other dying games, specifically Interstellar War or Galactic Fleets, you Google “The Lacuna Expanse” and give that a shot. Unfortunately if Chosen Space is what you’re into, the recommended game will unlikely interest you.

SST Nostalgia

In celebration of their 10th birthday, Google has for a limited time pulled out of their archive the oldest index of the web they have. This index goes back to the end of 2001. Being curious, I decided to do a search of ‘starshiptraders’ to see what I would find:

Starship Traders Webgame: A free online realtime multiplayer …
StarshipTraders.com. (There are 7 players online @ 02:29 KST). If you are a new
player please read the information below. Enter your name or a pseudonym: …
http://199.44.248.254:1880/ – View old version on the Internet Archive

For a limited time you can go here: http://www.google.com/search2001.html and search the web as it was back in 2001. Click on ‘View old version on the Internet Archive’ to see any page found as it was cached back in 2001. I found the log in page for the game as well as the team page for Game 000. I believe the search will be up for the month of October so be sure to check it soon, and look up starshiptraders for a little SST Nostalgia.

SST Revival?

With the ELF game now being the only game in town, it looks like it is now finally getting some traction with more than 100 logins every day. It’s nice to put geographic locations to the various players with the help of the login history page. It is however, amusing or sad depending on how you look at things, that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It appears that the fear of client use there is also gaining traction, despite the fact that is highly unlikely to be even happening! With the game now being a browser only game, many of the browser related bugs are now coming to the surface.

One such bug is the game reset bug which occurs when an impatient browser user is the person who initiates the reset. Fortunately for ELF, the games being reset are run on a fast server (ie. not likely shared or virtualized)and have relatively small active maps. Unlike when the game is initiated through a telnet/client connection, the browser user gets no notification that a game reset has been started. Believing that the browser has hung, logging back into the game before map creation is completed, aborts the message clearing step before it has a chance to run. There is at least one work around that I can think of, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the game admin.

It’s certainly worth dropping into the game for the entertainment ;)

New Game in Town

Looks like the current TLR game will be replaced with a new one. Settings look interesting… hope it will attract some new players or at least bring back some of the old ones. New game will be starting near the end of September according to the message posted by the admin. A test game has also been setup for players to check prior to game start.

Message: 1 Sat Aug 18 16:37:12 2007 (Public)
To: BESTARK
From: SYSADMINB
Subject: New Game Format

Next game will be a 3 month game.
Format will be resort game in a 1.6M sector/room universe and with
the following game settings:
6 days production, 1000 production bonus, 2M fuel allocation
initial base cost 15000, team size 12 and maximum bunker size 15
Those interrested, can check out the 35 day test game which is
configured at the settings of the next game.
SYSADMINB

TLR/TLF/SpaceTyrant game client

I’ve been promising this for awhile now. A few players have been running the client on window systems. One on Windows 2000 and another on XP. There’s a link at the bottom of this article, to download the client. Nothing fancy like the installer for Art’s client and not much eye candy either. I’m more interested in what you can do with client than how it looks. Also, it’s not nearly as automated as some of the other players clients/bots, except for score collecting which I occasionally do. I’ve retired my bots more than 2 years ago. You’ll need to unzip the files into whatever directory you wish to play from and do a full install of mono from the Novell website http://www.mono-project.com/Downloads. Just select the appropriate stable release for the OS you’re running. Works on any OS, as long as you’re running Windows 2000 or above, or a Linux distribution on which you can install mono ;)

Once the client and mono are installed, on windows start the mono dos box and switch to the directory where you’ve unzipped the client files. Type “mono GameClient.exe” to run, and that’s it. No instructions are included to run client. Anyone out there care to write a client manual? For Linux, consult your distribution’s help for how to run mono.

TLR/TLF Hotel/Galaxy Structures

When I first started playing starship traders, there was an active yahoo group with much advice and other interesting postings. Among those post, and which I was fortunate enough to have saved, (somewhere along the way, the posts just got deleted) a post explained the structures of the galaxies. I’ve updated the content and used for training new captains and just recently added the equivalent hotel structures for resort worlds in the last resort.

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Macros, bots, clients and scripts – The secrets of SST

Long before the current crop of clients in SST, there was automation in one form or another. It was just kept secret from most of the players and used just by the elite to rule the game. Many of the features now available in the game were introduced by Ray to help balance the game, things like the macro, the auto-scoop and the scout launcher. And later on, spurred even further automation. As more graphical based games started flooding the internet, the client port was added and the graphic client was born and evolved into what some people know as the Kirellii client. And which is probably the source for most of the current clients and bots being used these days.

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Someone stole my ships!

Many players may have seen messages in TLF claiming that ships used in an attack had their passwords hacked and ships were stolen. What they may not know, is it’s highly unlikely to have actually happened. Anyone who has downloaded the tarballs for SST or TLR will soon realize that the passwords are not hackable, as they use a one-way cipher that’s not only based on the name of the ship, but also on it’s position in the user database.

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