How do I get quests?
Sometimes on the System Information screen (the first screen that is shown when docking at a new system) in the lower right-hand corner there is a button marked "Special". Tap on this button to access special features, like quests. Note that most quests have special requirements, and you only see the button if you meet these requirements. Notably, most quests are not given to criminals (since they aren't trustworthy). On the other hand, since version 1.2.0 there are also a few quests which only criminals can get.
How do I do damage to the Scarab?
This is explained in the game, but it seems some people miss this. The Scarab can only be damaged by Pulse lasers. On Beginner, Easy and Normal level, this will solve your problem. On Hard and Impossible level you may find that Pulse lasers are a bit too weak to best the Scarab. However, the game offers you a solution for that which I will leave for the player to discover.
How do I claim a moon?
Usually when I get this question, the person who asks has not discovered the "Special" button. The moon is a quest. You get it just like the other quests. The previous answer explains how. Incidentally, there are four systems in the galaxy that sell a moon. You need to be worth at least 400,000 credits to get the offer, though. The moon itself costs half-a-million credits. When you have bought a moon, you have to travel to the Utopia system to claim it, by tapping the Special button when docked there.
At which system can I buy a moon or sell tribbles?
Sorry, I can't tell you. This is decided randomly at the start of the game. However, four systems sell a moon (if your net worth is at least 400,000 credits) and three systems buy tribbles (if you have them on board). So if you just coast from system to system you are bound to encounter one of them eventually. Also, since version 1.2.0 newspapers may give information on where to find a moon seller or tribble buyer.
I can't find professor Berger. Where is he?
He should be on some Hi-Tech system, but it's determined randomly which system. If you can't find him, just surrender to the aliens, and they will take the artifact from you without harming you any further. I have checked whether there is an error in this quest, but until now I have always found Berger's hiding place.
How do I get rid of those annoying tribbles?
The tribbles are kind of a joke, added as a tribute to the original C64 version of Elite. The best way to get rid of them, is to find a place to sell them. Three solar systems in the galaxy enable you to do that, and they can bring great profits. Since version 1.0.1, you can also get rid of them by selling or destroying your ship, but that'll cost you. It's up to you to think of a way to reduce those costs considerably. Version 1.2.0 introduces yet another method of removing tribbles, which ties in with one of the new quests. You discover this automatically if it applies to you.
How do I buy weapons for my ship? How do I get
to the bank?
Like any other application, Space Trader has a menu which you can reach by tapping the Palm menu button. This menu allows access to all Space Trader functions, including buying and selling of equipment, the galactic chart and the bank.
I don't understand what the scoring percentage means!
It's an indication of how well you played the game. It is tuned so that when you win the game by claiming a moon in average time with an average amount of money on Normal difficulty level, you score 100%. If you play on Beginner or Easy level, you will probably never reach 100%. If you play on Hard or Impossible and win the game, you will probably score a lot higher than 100%. I have had reports of people scoring close to 300% on Impossible level. Incidentally, the help text that explains the scoring mechanism contains some errors in version 1.1.2 and lower. It is corrected for version 1.2.0.
I have a huge debt but I don't pay interest!
I am sorry to disappoint you, but you actually do pay interest. It's just that the interest is not, like in similar games, added to your debt, but automatically deducted from you cash balance as soon as you warp. Only if you don't have enough cash, your debt is increased. You can see this on the Target System screen, where you can get a specification of the warp costs. I did this in order to not let players run around gathering debts and then finishing the game without ever paying them off again.
This game is too hard!
That's why there is a difficulty level which you can set from the New Commander screen. "Beginner" level is definitely easy, indeed, it's too easy, and it's only meant to get a feeling for the game without dying every few days. "Easy" level is a bit challenging for new players, but after a game on this level you'll probably want to switch to "Normal". "Normal" is the way the game was originally implemented, before the difficulty levels were added. This level is definitely playable: I for one have no problems playing this level to the end. You have to find the right tactics, though. "Hard" level is indeed hard. I find it very challenging. "Impossible" level is a lot harder than "Hard", and to be honest, I have never tried playing it. I have had many reports of people winning this level, though.
I can't seem to make any money!
The best way to make money is to use the special events which sometimes occur in solar systems. For instance, when there is a drought people pay a lot for water, when they lack workers they pay huge prices for machinery and robots, and when it's very cold, they crave furs. The documentation gives the specifics on all the trade goods in this respect.
I'm a crook/criminal/villain/psycho. How do I
get rid of that rating?
Being a villain or psycho can be tough. The police will send strong ships after you. But you deserved it: you attacked police ships or innocent traders. And not just one, a whole lot of them. Your police record will slowly revert back to clean over time. However, if you are a psycho this can take something like three game months (and a lot longer on Hard or Impossible level). So what can you do? Apart from stopping attacking police ships and traders (every attack will hurt your record), your best bet is to go hunt pirates. Every pirate you kill will help your record. If you are lucky, you might encounter a hacker who is willing to reset your record to clean for a price. And if all else fails, surrender to the police and you will be punished, after which you can resume your life as an honest trader. Psycho's don't have that last option, though.
My, this game needs a lot of stylus interaction!
Space Trader is a complex game, and consequently has many different screens, which leads to many screen changes and therefore a lot of interaction on the player's part. Since I felt this was probably the worst shortcoming of the game, I implemented several ways to reduce the number of interactions you have to execute. Please read the Tips page on those. Incidentally, later versions play a lot smoother than version 1.0, so upgrade if you are still at the first version.
I noticed a bug. Should I send you a snapshot?
I am interested in hearing about any bugs. If they are serious, I will fix them fast. If they are minor, I might wait a bit, but I will fix them in time. About reporting bugs: there is no need to send me a snapshot at first, I will ask for it if I need it. Describe the bug to me. Maybe I already solved it. And I tend to delete attachments on the spot out of fear of virusses. You can, of course, make a snapshot as soon as you notice a bug in case I ask for it later.
How do I take a snapshot and send it to you?
Go to the Space Trader "Game" menu, and tap the choice "Snapshot". The game will create a file "SpaceTraderSave" on your Palm. If there already was such a file, it gets overwritten. The file contains the state of your game at the moment you made the snapshot. The size of a snapshot is about 5K. The next time you HotSync, the snapshot file is copied as "SpaceTraderSave.PDB" to your Backup directory. This directory is usually something like "...\Palm\Username\Backup." If you cannot find it, just search from the root of your hard drive for "SpaceTraderSave.PDB" and it will come up. Send it to me as an email attachment. I can load it again on my Palm and see exactly what you were looking at and at what point your game was when you noticed something.
It seems I can't finish a particular quest!
A bug introduced in version 1.1 could overwrite a "Special" for a system with the Special which starts the "Alien Invasion" quest. This could even lead to the "Claim your moon" special being overwritten. Very annoying, though it didn't happen often (for instance, overwriting the "Moon" special would happen in about 0.8% of all played games - that's why it took such a long time for me to notice this). Version 1.1.1 solves this problem for new games. If you are already in the middle of the game, it will correct this issue if the "Moon" special was overwritten. The other quests won't be corrected, but none of them is crucial for the game. However, it looks like a similar bug has crept up in version 1.2.0, which sporadically rears its ugly head (although it's pretty rare). I am still working on that.
When I try to install Space Trader on my Palm, it
tells me there isn't enough memory, but I still have a lot free. What's going
This problem is connected with the use of Palm OS 2.0.x. This OS version has problems with fragmented memory. Palm OS versions 3.0 and higher solve this problem by automatically defragmenting the memory when there is not enough contiguous memory available for an application. That doesn't mean that the game won't run with OS 2.0.x., although you can probably forget it if you are using a PalmPilot Personal (or a Pilot 1000 or 5000, though these normally run OS version 1.0 and that OS is not supported at all by Space Trader). Other models using OS 2.0.x often manage to run the game, but I don't know if it works always. Version 1.1.2 is the first multi-segmented version of Space Trader. A multi-segmented application is divided into smaller parts which can be loaded in different parts of the Palm memory. This gives the earlier Palm OS versions a better chance to cope with the fragmentation problem. There may still be problems when there is little memory to spare, but in general, the problem should be solved with the release of version 1.1.2. With special thanks to Sam Anderson, who converted the game for me.
When I start the game, it tells me something fails
in StartupCode.c, line 62.
This is exactly the same problem as the one mentioned above.
I use Palm OS 4.x and I have problems with Space Trader.
If you are playing version 1.1.1 or lower, this is a consequence of memory management and Space Trader being a memory hog. Version 1.1.2 is the first multi-segmented version of the game and has definitely solved this problem. In the nine months since the release of version 1.1.2, I haven't had any reports of the game failing to run on OS 4.x. So upgrade.
I use Palm OS 2.x and can't run Space Trader.
If you have a PalmPilot Personal, you can probably forget about running Space Trader. Even the emulator won't run the game, and the emulator is usually much more forgiving than the actual hardware. However, if you have PalmPilot Professional or something better (that is, not a Pilot 1000 or 5000), you normally should be able to run the game, if you use version 1.1.2 or later. If you still can't run it, OS 2.x's lacking memory management may be the cause. You can try to free up some memory, but I can't guarantee success.
I cannot install the game file directly from your website.
Space Trader is delivered as a ZIP-file. You must unzip it before you can install it. You can get the standard WinZip program from http://www.winzip.com. Other unzip programs might also work. If you are trying to install the game directly from the web, you can get the PRC file itself immediately: Choose between the color version, the grayscale version and the black & white version. The black & white version runs on almost every Palm, but the other two versions require at least Palm OS 3.5 and the correct hardware. The complete documentation of the game, that is normally stored in the ZIP-file, is also found here.
My PDA freezes up when I go to the Short Range
You are using version 1.0.1. In this version, it is possible to get to the average price list screen for out-of-range systems. You can then warp to such a system. This makes your fuel tanks "overflow", and from that point on it is possible that the program gets into an endless loop when drawing the range circle on the Short Range Chart (and perhaps also on the Galactic Chart, though no-one reported that). This is solved in version 1.0.2 and later. You can simply install this new version over the old one and continue playing. Your fuel tanks will be automatically corrected.
I get a message stating
"Fatal Alert: MemoryMgr.c, Line: 4340, NULL handle" and have to do a reset.
Most probably you don't have enough free RAM to run the game. Remove an application you no longer use and try again. I agree that this is a very confusing message. Unfortunately it is generated by the system and I cannot replace it with something friendlier.
Can I put your game on a CD-ROM that is delivered with a book,
magazine or piece of hardware or sold separately?
Thanks for asking. Space Trader is released under a GPL license. That means you are free to distribute it in any way you like. However, if you make changes to the source code and create a new game, you are obliged to also release it under the same GPL license. That means the source code should be available to anyone who desires it and it should allow them to change the game to their liking, and distribute it. But there are no restrictions on publishing the game in any manner you like. However, as a personal favor to me, I would very much appreciate if you would send me a complimentary copy of the book, magazine or CD-ROM on which the game is published. That's not a requirement, though, just something I would like. You can get my address by emailing me, or by looking up my job-address from my website at Tilburg University.
When are you going to update the game?
I was working on a sequel game. I don't know if Space Trader will get further updates, except for bugfixes, because I like to spend my time as much as possible on a new game. I will certainly not work on big changes myself, but both version 1.1.2 and 1.2.0 were mainly created by others, and new versions may also be created in the same manner. That's one of the advantages of releasing a game under a GPL. Versions 1.2.1 and 1.2.2, which are a bugfix versions, have appeared in the meantime.
When do we get to see the sequel to Space Trader?
The standard answer applies: "When it is finished." I have NOT given up.
Can I play Space Trader on a PC?
Jay French released Space Trader for Windows. It's also possible to play Space Trader in an emulator. You can download an emulator from http://www.palmsource.com/developers/. To use it, you also need a Palm ROM image, which you can download from your Palm using the ROM transfer program. You can simply drop the Space Trader PRC file onto the emulator to play the game. Note that the newest version of the emulator has considerably higher standards than previous ones and it reports some errors (or rather warnings) for the first screens of Space Trader. In fact, what these errors point out is that Space Trader is changing properties of some of the interface elements and does that directly instead of using Form Manager library functions. What Space Trader is doing at that point is changing the rounded corners of some buttons into square corners. Although the buttons have a property for this, there is no library function that allows changing it (although the property itself is well documented), so this problem cannot be solved by changing the Space Trader code. You can simply continue past the error messages and the game will run OK.For a more permanent solution, you can also completely avoid the error messages by right-clicking on the emulator, selecting Settings->Debugging, and unchecking the option "UIMgr Data Access". These warnings won't occur if you run OS 5.0 or higher in the emulator. Finally, I can add that I have had some reports of people working on a PC version of Space Trader. If anyone releases such a version, I will add a link to their site.
How about a Pocket PC version of Space Trader?
How about an iPhone version of Space Trader?
It exists. It is called "Dark Nova".
Can I install the new version of Space Trader
over the old one without losing my current game?
Yes, you can. All versions are upwards compatible. I'll try to do this for every release. If at some point I create an update in which this isn't the case, I will make that very clear in the readme file.
What did you use to develop the game?
I used CodeWarrior release 6, and the 3.5 SDK (I switched to SDK 4.0 for Space Trader 1.1.2). Version 1.2.0 was developed with CodeWarrior 8.3, using the 4.0 SDKs with the latest update patches. The game was tested using both the Emulator with the debug ROMs and the simulator of OS 5.0.
How do I start developing Palm applications?
Choose a development environment you can be comfortable with. Information on all kinds of environments can be found on the web. To understand the general structure of a Palm application, you can use example source codes and the SDK documentation that is freely available from the same site. For testing purposes you need ROM images. You can use your own Palm for that, but the Palm corporation also makes available ROM images for anyone who registers as a Palm developer (again, at the same site). You need to sign a non-disclosure form, but it's free, and I've never had problems with it. In general, I would recommend C as development language for Palm applications, because the Palm OS seems to be geared towards C programming. However, many other languages, like Pascal, Java and C++, are also supported by specific programming environments.
Can I take a look at the source code?
The source code of Space Trader has been made available from the download page. It has been released under a GPL license, which protects my copyrights but allows you to use the code for your own purposes, provided you also release your program under the same conditions, that is, free and with source code available.
Why isn't there a savegame feature in Space Trader?
I was reluctant to add the savegame feature, because being able to save and reload after being destroyed would certainly remove the tension from the combat (which otherwise would definitely be boring) and the game as a whole. At the moment, it's like real life: if you make a mistake, you'll pay for it. I seriously considered adding the savegame function in version 1.2.0 and had beta testers evaluating it, but all testers that commented on it said it should be removed because it made the game a bore. I did add a "Switch Game" function which allows you to run two Space Trader game sessions in parallel. People who wanted to have a savegame function so they could share a Palm with someone else who also wanted to play Space Trader can now do so. My personal opinion is that a savegame function is not really needed, because the game contains many elements which can protect you against dying. You can flee, you can surrender and you can buy an escape pod. You might feel surrendering is a bit cowardly, but it is part of the game, and it's better than dying, wouldn't you agree?
Why don't you add a "flight mode" to
Several reasons. It takes a lot of time to implement that. It also takes a lot of time to acquire the knowledge to be able to implement that. It requires a complete rewrite of the game. I don't think it's the fun part of the game. And finally: there already is a faithful implementation of Elite available for the Palm. It's shareware, but pretty cheap. It's called "Void". The sequel game will have a flight mode, but it's 2D, not 3D. I think that works better for a Palm.
Can I assist you with the further development of
Space Trader or other games?
If you send me a message with the email address where you can be contacted, and specify how you think you can contribute (beta testing, graphic art, programming, translating, porting...), I will add your name to a list I keep, and by the time I need help, I'll send you a message. If at that time you are no longer able or willing to contribute, no harm done, just refuse.
Why don't you ask money for this game?
Because I'm a nice guy :-)... To be honest, had I known how well this game would be received, I might have considered it. But I wasn't sure it would be appreciated by many people, and I didn't want to limit my potential public. Therefore I released it as freeware, and it will remain that. If you wish to send me something, you can do that through PayPal (see the next question in this FAQ). The sequel game will probably be released as shareware. My intention is to make the game playable for free, but add some ehancements for the die-hard players, for a small shareware fee.
Can I send you something as a thank-you for making
this game available?
Space Trader is freeware, and as such all contributions are entirely voluntarily. However, if you wish to support the further development of the game, its sequel or other software projects, you can do that through PayPal, with a donation to p.spronck -at- uvt.nl. If you don't already have a PayPal account, get one here. Someone asked me if I could give him my address, so he could send me something. Complete contact information on me can be found on my website at Tilburg University. I intend to invest everything I receive as a donation for Space Trader in game development for the Palm.
I have thought of a nice feature you can implement in
Great. I love to hear it. I am not promising that I will add it, but I will if I think the idea is good, it isn't too difficult to implement, and it is in the spirit of the game. Ideas I don't use for Space Trader may very well inspire features for the sequel game, and at least point out to me what players would like to see in a sequel.
Are there cheat codes for this game?
I'm surprised how often I get this question. While there are games where cheating won't have to detract from the fun, I think Space Trader is a game where it is is a way to get bored quickly. Think of it: I have added the moon quest to end the game in a satisfying way around the point where you have the best ship and the best weapons, simply because the game becomes boring at that point. If you cheat and give yourself the best stuff, what's the point of playing the game? But anyway, yes, there are cheats, which I built in for testing purposes. Since the source code is available, anyone can look up what they are. And because that's the case, I can also reveal the cheat codes here. In order not to spoil the fun for people who don't want to know what they are, I have encoded them here with a simple Caesar cipher: all characters are shifted up one place in the alphabet. If you really want to cheat, go ahead and translate the following text: Uifsi bsf, jo gbdu, uisff difbu dpeft jo uif hbnf. Bmm pg uifn ibwf up cf foufsfe jo uif Gjoe cpy po uif hbmbdujd dibsu. Bmm difbu dpeft ibwf up cf foufsfe xjui b dbqjubm bt uif gjstu dibsbdufs. Uif gjstu dpef jt rvftut, xijdi hjwft zpv b mjtu pg rvftu tubsujoh tztufnt. Uif tfdpoe jt nppmbi, xijdi hjwft zpv b ivoesfe uipvtboe dsfejut. Uif uijse jt uif pof uibu dbo sfbmmz eftudvdu uif hbnf jg zpv foufs fsspofpvt wbmvft: foufs uif dpef diffubi, uifo hp up uif dpnnboefs tubuvt tdsffo, xifsf b Difbu cvuupo xjmm ibwf bqqfbsfe. Ju bmmpxt zpv up feju nboz jo-hbnf wbmvft, cvu dbo gvehf-vq zpvs hbnf bmtp. Iboemf xjui dbsf. Wfstjpo 1.2.0 beefe uxp ofx dpeft. Hp gpmmpxfe cz b tztufn obnf usbotqpsut zpv jnnfejbufmz up uif ubshfu tztufn. Boe Wfsz sbsf pqfot b tdsffo uibu bmmpxt zpv up dibohf dibodft gps uif wfwz sbsf fodpvoufst. Gjobmmz, hjwjoh uif dpnnboe ujnfxbsq mpbet b tobqtipu.
I have an excite new game for you. I wish you would like it.
Your PC is infected by a virus. Get rid of it or I'll put you in my twit filter.