(This is part of my journey playing through Starflight. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
I may have yammered on a while back about the importance that Starflight held in my life back in the 80s. It was the confluence of several factors: my obsession with Star Trek, my love of science fiction, and my copious amounts of free time unfettered from a social life. And yet this game was brutal to me, as a single game over would effectively end that game and require a completely new one (which was compounded by the need to make copies of the game disc to run it on, lest I accidentally auto-save a failed game on the main discs).
And yet I loved being able to make up my own crew, fly my own ship, and set out into the galaxy to find my fortune. Starflight’s been lurking in my GOG library for a while now, so let’s take it out for a spin — even if it might end up being a short ride.
OK, this start-up screen made me laugh, because you have to be pretty old to remember these sorts of menus. Basically it’s asking me how crappy my monitor is. Hercules? I don’t even recall what that is. I’ll go EGA and thank my lucky stars that I’ll get about four colors.
After a warning screen (games were very heavy-handed about piracy issues and copy protection back then), I get treated to this lovely sight:
Just be glad you can’t hear the awful bleeps and bloops that are attempting a main theme but are actually scoring your own personal hell.
Without further ado, the game dumps me into the main space station. As I recall, this is the central hub of Starflight that functions as a character creator, mission generator, bank, and vendor.
Operations has an infodump for me, including a few suggestions where to go starting out and these helpful objectives. Don’t get killed? Rip off Star Trek as much as possible? Check!
Over in personnel, I create my crew. Once again, I’m going to be pulling names from whoever is currently on my Twitter feed. Starflight doesn’t give us the best in the graphics department, opting for silhouettes instead of actual art or headshots. I vividly remember loving the android option because they start with really good navigation and engineering skills, even though they can’t learn anything past that.
Can someone tell me what this human is doing here? The Egyptian dance? I mean… I don’t even…
So my crew is (drumroll): Dodge the human, Rubi the android, Pasmith the Velox (big praying mantis), Ardwulf the Elowan (plant-thing), MJ the human, and Ferrel the Thrynn (dinosaur).
Everyone gets a spot on the ship based on his/her/its best skill. Don’t complain to me, it’s a pure numbers game.
The space station bank informs me of two interesting facts: (1) I’m getting a whopping 12% interest, and (2) I apparently spent 200 MUs buying this game. Guh? Are we just getting meta and breaking the fourth wall, or did my captain decide to buy some apps before heading out on his journey?
And finally, it’s time to customize my ship, the ISS Bio Break. Now, back when I played this as a kid, there weren’t any strategy guides and I didn’t notice that thing in operations basically telling me to stick around this system and mine it to make money. Instead, I bought engines and spent so much fuel flying to the nearest system that I usually went broke.
This time, I’m being smart. I load up the Bio Break with 16 cargo pods and nothing else; we’re going to hang around here and mine, mine, mine like I’m a newbie in EVE Online.