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    FAQ by Globu

    Version: 0.8 | Updated: 11/28/09 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    ===============================================================================
                                Omnitrend's Universe
                                  for Atari 8-bit
    
                                     FAQ v0.8
    
                             Last Updated July 17, 2008
    
    ===============================================================================
          By Globu (a.k.a. Chris Edgar) (gluby (at) (delete) mwmythicmods.com)
    ===============================================================================
    
    
    ========
    CONTENTS
    ========
    
    1. Basic Information
    2. Section 1: Technical FAQ
    3. Section 2: Gameplay FAQ
    4. Conclusion
    
    
    =================
    BASIC INFORMATION
    =================
    
    This FAQ is designed to help those so interested to play the Atari 8-bit 
    version of Omnitrend's Universe.
    
    First, what is Universe?
    
    Omnitrend's Universe is a now-little-known gem of a role-playing game written 
    by William G. M. Leslie III and Thomas Carbone and published in 1983 by 
    Omnitrend Software.  Evoking the spirit and feel of the old black-box pen-and-
    paper Traveller RPG, it is the basis for two sequels, Universe II (1987) and 
    Universe 3 (1989), and its fictional universe is also the setting for a number 
    of other games developed by Omnitrend: the Rules of Engagement series (1991-
    1993) and the Breach series (1987-1995).
    
    Universe runs in the same vein as games like Elite (1985), Starflight (1989) 
    and SunDog: Frozen Legacy (1984) (as well as more modern ones like the X: 
    Beyond the Frontier series (1999-2005)).  Its gameplay involves freelance 
    space exploration, trading, space combat, planetary mining, and other economic 
    activities.  However, where its similarly-themed contemporaries focused on 
    graphical interfaces and, to varying degrees, action, Universe was sparing 
    with graphics and left more to the imagination, instead focusing on deep 
    gameplay, strategic elements, and sophisticated modeling.  Indeed, at least 
    half of gameplay is conducted via textual menus.
    
    A fuller description of the game can be found at Moby Games, though the entry 
    is difficult to find due to the fact that "Universe" is a rather widely-used 
    word in computer gaming, and the correct entry is way down in the search 
    results.  A search for "universe" on the Atari 8-bit platform only, however, 
    will pull it right up, though.  Or, you can just go here (trailing underscore 
    included):
    
    http://www.mobygames.com/game/atari-8-bit/universe_
    
    
    Okay then.  Why play Universe?  It's arcane in its user interface, and not at 
    all easy to get into.  In fact, it's quite dry in its presentation, and 
    unimaginably so in comparison to modern glitz-heavy games.  What distinguishes 
    it from the thousands of alternative games on which to spend one's time?
    
    Why, I'm glad you asked.
    
    Here are some good reasons to check out this incredible game:
    
    1) Omnitrend's Universe is the most authentic attempt I have ever seen  -- and 
    this is still true as of 2008 -- to capture the feel of GDW's pen-and-paper 
    Traveller RPG as conveyed in the first books that came in the little black 
    box.  That terrible vastness and loneliness of space...  the silence, along 
    with the excitement and intrigue, and possible reward, of crossing paths with 
    another starship in that emptiness.  The satisfaction of starting with a 
    little ship and a big debt, making your fortune in any way you like, and 
    upgrading that little ship into a powerful and versatile vessel that can 
    disable, board and plunder much larger ships, or destroy them outright.
    
    If you fell in love with the feel behind that game, and, like many, have 
    wanted its feel in a computer game (after all, Traveller is one of the primary 
    influences behind most of the science-fiction-space-ship-freelance-trading-
    adventure games out there), you will fall in love with this.  Nothing comes 
    closer -- not even Universe II and Universe 3, which, though they are fine 
    games in their own right, followed up more on the adventure elements.
    
    2) It is the apotheosis of that lost idea of substance over form, content over 
    presentation, in computer gaming.  The game is clean and polished but 
    rudimentary in its presentation, mostly consisting of text menus and displays. 
    The graphics that it does contain are simple (though admirably effective). It 
    lacks many of the user interface innovations that make modern games easy to 
    get into.  It infamously requires tedious amounts of disk-swapping (though 
    this can fortunately be minimized by using two virtual floppy drives, and is a 
    great deal easier with emulation).  And, indeed, it is more mentally demanding 
    of the player than almost any other game (including, famously or infamously, 
    the fact that it requires the player to do one bit of simple multiplication 
    for plotting planetary orbits).
    
    But look over the manual (available at Atarimania.com in the form of page 
    scans), and you will see that it contains incredible depth, detail and flavor. 
    This game was a labor of love, made to satisfy a very particular itch (that 
    Traveller thing again, I think).  In terms of content quality, it is what game 
    developers aspire to and are almost never allowed to accomplish by virtue of 
    the market model of the computer game industry (and the economic system as a 
    whole, really).
    
    3) It is historical.  This was, indeed, one of the first attempts to render 
    the genre created by GDW's Traveller into a computer game, though obviously 
    without the license or any direct reference.  It was by no means perfect, but 
    it got certain things just right -- things with which later game developers 
    have only rarely had reasonable success.  It was a genre-creating game, and 
    its influence can be seen in many games since, in various forms.  Plus, it 
    might offer some ideas for modern game developers in reference to trends in 
    the genre that may have lost that certain special something that made them so 
    compelling in the first place.
    
    
    
    ========================
    SECTION 1: TECHNICAL FAQ
    ========================
    
    DISK IMAGES AND VERSIONS AVAILABLE
    ==================================
    
    *  Why the Atari 8-bit version?  That's, like, so gauche.
    
    Three reasons.  First and most importantly, the copies of the other versions 
    available on the Internet appear to be broken.  No one can figure out how to 
    get the DOS version to work (it consistently returns an "Overlay Not Found" 
    error when you try to go into Docking Control for the first time, leaving you 
    with a red-colored DOS command prompt), and I had some technical problems with 
    the Apple II version after playing it for a while that led me to suspect that 
    there is something wrong with the Apple II disk images. But I am not an Apple 
    II guy, and it could just be User Error of some sort.
    
    Second, the Atari 8-bit version was the original version, and therefore the 
    One True Version.  (Kinda, anyway.)
    
    But third, I just like the Atari 8-bit.  I also know enough about using it to 
    have made Universe playable despite some quirks, some bugs, and what is 
    potentially a gamestopping problem in the version 1.2 disk images.
    
    All aesthetic, preferential and obsolete-platform-snobbery issues aside, 
    though, and assuming that my problems with the Apple II version (using the 
    AppleWin v1.13.1 emulator, for the record) were not User Error, the Atari 8-
    bit version is the only game in town, as it were.  However, I would love to be 
    proven wrong about the Apple II images (or the DOS version, for that matter).
    
    
    *  Where can I get the disk images?
    
    You can get working disk images of v1.2 at Atarimania (www.atarimania.com). 
    Furthermore, you can get page scans of the manual, which is *absolutely 
    necessary* to play the game (you need to have it handy at all times for 
    reference information which is not present in the text of the game).  Really, 
    this is a rich, complex and detailed science fiction role-playing game packed 
    into four low-density 5.25-inch floppy disks, and it was sold with a very 
    nice, well-made and useful manual in a full-scale, custom looseleaf folder. 
    Unlike most other games, for Universe the manual is part of the game 
    experience (primarily for lists and reference).  It isn't a throw-away manual 
    included under the assumption that it will be ignored by eager players.  Have 
    it handy.
    
    But note that the developers and publishers have *not* released it to the 
    community as free software, so it remains "abandonware" with an assertable 
    copyright.
    
    
    *  Are there different versions available?  Which one should I use?
    
    There appear to be at least three known versions of the Atari 8-bit release: 
    1.1, 1.2 and 1.3.  To my great dismay, it appears version 1.3 is unavailable 
    in disk image form. The general Atari 8-bit FTP sources have version 1.1. 
    Version 1.2 is the one available at AtariMania, and is the one to play.
    
    BUT -- do also keep a hold of the version 1.1 disks, as there was, at least 
    with the publicly-available disk images of v1.2 I have been using, a game-
    stopping problem with ship-to-ship combat that was solved by using the 
    Starship disk from version 1.1 instead!  More on this below (the question on 
    Weapons Systems).
    
    
    *  Looking it up on the Internet, I see nothing but reports of people being 
    unable to play the game.  Are the disk images publicly available really 
    playable?
    
    Yes, quite.  As you'll see below, you have to watch out for a couple of 
    pitfalls, and you have to use a workaround for one problem, but I have 
    personally tested all major sections of the game, and, in my player disk, am 
    sitting on a fully-decked out starship with 56 million credits in my pocket. 
    
    (And I do have a saved copy of that saved game I'd be happy to send anyone who 
    would like to see it or test with it.)
    
    
    TECHNICAL ISSUES
    ================
    
    *  Why won't it format my player disk?
    
    You need to format it using single density format. The blank disk images 
    created by Atari800Win work fine.
    
    
    *  Can I play with two disk drives to minimize disk swapping?  How do I do it?
    
    Yes, you can with version 1.2, and the disk swapping quickly becomes tedious 
    if you don't. (Plus, it was known to literally wear out people's disk drives 
    when people played the game on actual Atari hardware!)  Unfortunately, 
    however, version 1.1 does not support multiple drives.
    
    Here's how you do it. First, boot with the Flight 1 disk.  It will ask for the 
    player disk; insert the Player Disk into drive 1 and the Flight 2 into drive 
    2.  Then, hold down START, SELECT or OPTION (I found that any of them work) 
    while pushing ENTER. It will play in two-drive mode from then on during that 
    play session, and you will only need to occasionally swap between Flight 1 and 
    2 in the second drive.
    
    
    *  Problem: The game seems to have gotten stuck stuck, just reading from drive 
       2 without getting anywhere.
    
    A bug, but fortunately a harmless one.  The problem is that the game doesn't 
    always tell you when you need to switch disks; it just keeps trying to find 
    the right disk in the drive without giving you feedback that it's swapping 
    time.  When this occurs, just switch from Flight 1 to Flight 2 or vice-versa.
    
    
    *  Problem: The game freezes at the sub-light drives interface when I get to 
       the spot where I'm supposed to manually enter planetary orbit coordinates.
    
    This is the problem everyone runs into.  Fortunately, it's easy to solve. 
    Short answer: turn off the emulator's SIO patching.
    
    For some reason, Universe doesn't like SIO patching in the emulator. (SIO 
    patching is the function that dramatically speeds up emulated disk reads and 
    writes; it's a very nice and useful emulation function, but some games, like 
    Universe, choke on it.)  The solution is to disable SIO.  If the disk reading 
    wait times are bothersome, just speed up the entire emulation (press F7 to 
    toggle it in Atari 800Win PLus) during disk reads instead -- just make sure 
    not to do it too much longer while the actual game is running, as Universe is 
    a real-time game and time will tick away rather quickly!
    
    
    *  Problem: When I go to Weapons Systems, it won't recognize either Flight 
       disks 1 or 2.  It just sits there trying to read from drive 2, and is 
       basically stuck.
    
    Now *this* is a more serious problem; I don't know what the cause is, but 
    there is a rough workaround.  The problem does not seem to be related to the 
    system ROMs, SIO settings or anything along those lines. It's either a bug in 
    the game or a problem with the version 1.2 disk images I used (from 
    Atarimania.com).  Fortunately, there is a workaround: when it is time for 
    ship-to-ship combat, boot with and use the Flight disks from version 1.1 and 
    then go into Weapons Systems.  (Remember above I told you to get the disk 
    images for v1.1 and keep them handy?  This is why.  Just remember version 1.1 
    doesn't support multiple disk drives.)
    
    
    *  Other bugs and problems with the game.
    
    Unfortunately, there are a number of bugs and problems with the game, some of 
    them rather serious, at least with the version 1.2 I've been working with.
    
      +  Shuttle Cargo Space Corruption: It sometimes fails to update your 
         shuttles' cargo capacity after selling the cargo at starport.  So, in my 
         Axian Corprate [sic] shuttles with 250 cargo capacity each, all but one 
         of them empty; one empty shuttle has 226 remaining cargo capacity, the 
         other empty shuttles have 44, and the one with cargo in it has -149 cargo 
         space. Unfortunately, I know of no fix for this but to sell them and 
         replace them. Maybe this is the game counterpart to planned obsolescence.
      
      +  Contracts House Can Become Unusable: About two years into the game, I had 
         one delivery contract left, but let it expire (such contracts are non-
         binding in the game, and there is no penalty for letting them lapse).  I 
         have let contracts lapse before, but, unfortunately, this one now makes 
         the game freeze every time I go into the Contracts House at starport. 
         Solution? None of which I know. Try to be sure to fulfill all your 
         contracts in case an expiring one triggers this bug.  If it happens and 
         you can't avert it, just avoid the contracts house from then on, I guess.
         And keep periodic savegame disk backups.
         
    
    
    MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS
    =======================
    
    *  Is Omnitrend still in existence?
    
    Yes, at least as of 2005.  And it is run by Tim Carbone.  In fact, in two 
    posts from July of 2005 on Atariage.com, Bill Lange and remowilliams wrote 
    that Omnitrend still has NOS copies of Universe and other old games:
    
        Universe I $69.95 (Atari XL/XE, DOS and Apple //)
        Universe II (no price given) (DOS, Atari ST and Amiga)
        Universe 3 $59.95 (Atari ST)
        Breach 2 $59.95 (Atari ST, Amiga and DOS)
        Rules of Engagement $69.95 (Amiga and DOS)
    
    (See http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=72914.)
    
    
    =======================
    SECTION 2: GAMEPLAY FAQ
    =======================
    
    *  Okay, so I've gotten the game running.  How do I start out the game 
       effectively?
    
    If you're having trouble beginning a new game, here's a checklist for starting 
    out the game, which you should follow to the letter (trust me -- this game is 
    not very fault-tolerant):
    
    1. Insert the Construction Disk.  Go through the steps and then pick a ship. 
       Because it's such a pain to see all the relevant statistics, and the manual 
       chart lists only hulls per section of the ship, rather than total hulls for 
       easy comparison, here is a list of the ships their statistics for easy 
       comparison. (Quick answer: the ZM-110 is the most versatile.)
       
       Note that the descriptions are simple, unedited quotes from the manual -- I 
       haven't put any new information in them.
    
                (1) ZM-110
    
                    Price:      21,605
                    Mass:     1.5 M Kg
                    Hulls:         145
                    Visibility:     34
                    Integrity:      78
    
                    The ZM-110 represents the latest design from Winston. The ship 
                    design has undergone several revisions, making the 110 one of 
                    the most problem free ship designs available today.
    
                (2) Explorer 6A
    
                    Price:      56,025
                    Mass:    3.80 M Kg
                    Hulls:         376
                    Visibility:     87
                    Integrity:      94
    
                    The Explorer 6A is one of the largest capacity ships available 
                    today.  The space efficient design allows more cargo while 
                    retaining relatively high structural integrity.  This ship is 
                    a popular product among transport pilots.
            
                (3) Ignia
    
                    Price:      17,285
                    Mass:    1.20 M Kg
                    Hulls:         116
                    Visibility:     56
                    Integrity:      74
    
                    Ignia, although a fairly old design, has proven to be a sturdy 
                    and conviniently [sic] modular ship.  The three central pods 
                    are easily replacable [sic] and offer high turn-around rates, 
                    a very attractive feature for transport companies.
            
                (4) Al Vexan
    
                    Price:      11,900
                    Mass:    0.47 M Kg
                    Hulls:          46
                    Visibility:     38
                    Integrity:      51
    
                    The Al Vexan is a rather old design that has proven to be one 
                    of the best designed ships in terms of structural integrity. 
                    Although the ship has a small interior capacity, many pilots 
                    will find the reduced visibility and low mass to be 
                    advantageous.
            
                (5) T'ul Edur
    
                    Price:      22,300
                    Mass:    0.68 M Kg
                    Hulls:          65
                    Visibility:     69
                    Integrity:      62
    
                    The T'ul Edur has been said to be the most modern ship design 
                    available today.  Its compact shape and modular cargo pods are 
                    well suited to transport, and yet due to the advanced design 
                    techniques, maintains high acceleration.
    
                (6) DN-300
    
                    Price:      13,430
                    Mass:    0.67 M Kg
                    Hulls:          70
                    Visibility:     57
                    Integrity:      79
    
                    The DN-300 has been a high volume seller here at Axia. Quality 
                    after-purchase service of the framework and long-term 
                    availability of parts has made the DN-300 score high on the 
                    list of avid pilots.
            
                (7) DN-310
    
                    Price:      34,200
                    Mass:    2.23 M Kg
                    Hulls:         235
                    Visibility:     96
                    Integrity:      49
    
                    The DN-310 is the latest design from Axia.  It is currently 
                    the highest capacity, module transport available.  As with all 
                    Axia products, the availability and quality of after-purchase 
                    service ranks high.
            
                (8) Horizon II
    
                    Price:      18,645
                    Mass:    1.02 M Kg
                    Hulls:         105
                    Visibility:     49
                    Integrity:      46
    
                    The Horizon II is a limited production ship that has been 
                    praised by some for its conservative design.  The long boom 
                    between mid and aft sections provides isolation that can be 
                    necessary but is missing in many popular designs.
                    
                (9) Kosygin
    
                    Price:      14,755
                    Mass:    0.73 M Kg
                    Hulls:          72
                    Visibility:     65
                    Integrity:      89
    
                    The Kosygin was originally designed as an interplanetary ship, 
                    but has been upgraded to handle interstellar travel.  An 
                    underbelly section has been added to clear the main nose 
                    section in order to increase the payload capacity.
    
                (10) Radpo'ol
    
                    Price:      15,650
                    Mass:    0.91 M Kg
                    Hulls:          86
                    Visibility:     72
                    Integrity:      73
    
                    The Radpo'ol is a one-of-a-kind acquisition that has intrigued 
                    many pilots.  Although untested by Axia personnel, computer 
                    simulations have shown the Radpo'ol to be relatively safe for 
                    hyperflight.  Certainly an unusual buy.
    
    2. Once you have picked a ship, follow the directions amd create a player 
       disk.  Once you're done, MAKE A BACKUP COPY OF YOUR PLAYER DISK IMAGE NOW. 
       You *will* screw up a few times yet, so you don't want to have to go 
       through all that trouble again.
    
    3. Then, boot up the Flight 1 disk and IMMEDIATELY go into drydock. Go 
       straight to Place Parts before you do anything else.  Then, if you wish, 
       you can remove any parts you wish to replace and buy new ones, then place 
       them. Be sure to hire at least 15 crew and buy provisions. (You need at 
       least ten crew on board the ship at all times, plus 5 for each orbiter 
       shuttle.)
    
    4. Once you're done with drydock, go to System Drives, and select Sub-Light 
       and then Planetary.  Here is where you enter your desired orbit 
       coordinates. Be of good cheer, however; this infamous part of the game is 
       *nowhere* near as tricky as it has been made out to be, and there is really 
       only one simple bit of math involved: calculating the best distance from 
       the planet (the "rho point" -- the radial axis, or the distance from 
       planetary center), which is always the planetary radius plus 5% (or, put 
       another way, 1.05 times the radius).
    
       So, the easy way through this is to enter the "rho point" you got 
       calculated from that simple equation, and zeroes for the other coordinates. 
       So, since Axia has a diameter of 6300, and 5% of that is 315 (for a total 
       of 6300+315=6615), the coordinates you should enter are 6615,0,0. (If you 
       didn't read the manual and you're curious, the 5% is to account for 
       plantery atmosphere.)
               
       But that said, if you overestimate, it only means a tad bit extra fuel 
       being consumed by your orbiters when landing.  Just don't *under* estimate 
       -- that's a problem.
       
       Congratulations; you've gotten through the infamous orbit-plotting part of 
       the game.
    
    5. Now, go to Trade Systems.  Launch Orbiters.  Enter 20 for ENERGY (20%, 
       which gives some buffer but doesn't waste a whole bunch of energy you won't 
       be able to store in your accumulators).  For other planets at other 
       altitudes, you'll want to use more or less, but 20 is good for Axia. Load 
       crew, then press START to launch. If, by the way, it doesn't launch, try 
       moving the selector to ORE or PASNGR and then pressing start -- it's kinda 
       picky.  From there, enjoy the textual glory of the landing sequence for a 
       while.  Revel in the authentic glory of it the first few times you do it. 
       Then blow through it by speeding up the emulation later.  When it finishes, 
       boot the Starport disk (and remember to hold down START when you press 
       enter after inserting the Player Disk).
    
    6. If you have no idea what to do from here, here's one suggestion. Ore IV 
       (fuel) is expensive (after all, it *is* the basis of the game's currency), 
       so the first things you need are a more efficient sub-light drive and 
       converter.  Go back to drydock, sell yours and pick up one of the drives 
       that do not use any ore IV/min (either Rynox Disprsmnt or, if you feel 
       exorbitant, the Induced Gravity) and the best converter available -- here 
       Fusion. (Remember that the converter determines how much fuel you use 
       altogether -- it is rather expensive NOT to have a good one).
               
       Given that your first sortie will probably be a passenger run (as you need 
       no capital to do that -- just a running ship), a good idea would be to sell 
       off your Ageless Ind. cryogenic vaults and buy the Kintopir'tern, which 
       won't kill off your passengers (remember that at about 2,000 per passenger, 
       that savings quickly recoups the money spent).
                          
       Finally, sell off that dinky Quentrix orbiter and get an Icarus. Once you 
       do that, you can make 14 (yes, 14) trips to the planet surface to pick up 
       270 passengers, 20 at a time (don't worry, you'll *never* have to do this 
       tedium again, but it will give you a major boost to start out with that 
       will make the beginning of the game go *much* more nicely and smoothly). 
       Pick up a few Contracts if you like, and see if there's anything cheap you 
       want to buy for a small trading run. Then, make a little trip to the 
       closest system, Prisa, and go to the planet Zeath. Make 14 trips to the 
       surface to drop off your passengers, and by the time you're done you'll 
       have quite a bundle to start with (270 passengers x 1,800 credits average = 
       around 500k).
    
       Once you're done, DO NOT FORGET to buy more Ore IV!  NEVER run out of Ore 
       IV!
    
    
    OTHER GENERAL GAMEPLAY TIPS
    ===========================
    
    Universe is a little, well, unforgiving.  Given the time investment involved, 
    it is vexing to have to start over repeatedly -- especially if you've gotten 
    something good going.  We're doing this for enjoyment and nostalgia, but no 
    one *really* wants to go through *all* the hassle.  If you're looking for some 
    guidance as to how to make money in the beginning, here are some tips:
    
    
    *  How to make money right away
    
    Find a mid-price product that is both bought and sold at the same Starport. 
    This takes some trial-and-error and, perhaps, note-taking to figure them out, 
    but one example I found that works quite well (once you've got the money to do 
    it -- your first load of 270 passengers you transported per number 6 above 
    should more than cover it) is Myb'Kuta on Vromus Prime; buy it for less than 
    $200k (sometimes it gets down to $130k or less) and put it up for sale at 
    $220k.  There might be a little delay, but it *will* be purchased at that 
    price.  Once you've worked up $500k or so, you can start buying Psion GDS at 
    about that price, which you can turn around and sell on the same market for 
    $850k(!).
       
    Note: this is probably not what the author intended, as it is a cheap exploit 
    of the variation in prices at the same market, but, hey, this is a long game, 
    and an easier start can smooth the learning curve and ease the disk-swapping 
    tedium.  If you're wanting a purer game experience and are averse to taking 
    advantage of this exploit, there are other ways to make your virtual fortune.
    
    
    *  How to make a killing later
    
    Mining: Mining really is enormously lucrative if you do it with high-end 
    equipment -- you can make millions from one trip, even one to a low-mineral-
    density planet. Ore I, of course, is preferable, as it is worth 1,000 Ore IV 
    credits, but the density of Ore II or Ore III (worth 100 and 10 each 
    respectively) may actually make it more worthwhile to mine them instead. 
    However, note that this takes a LOT of crew -- be sure to read (or re-read, as 
    the case may be) the manual section on mining before you do it.  But, with 
    five Voltac Group ore processors (the second-best kind), you can easily make 
    five million credits.
    
    Trading: In trading, one way you can quickly quintuple your money is to load 
    up on as many Esperstones at Vromus Prime as you can.  A good price on them is 
    about one million or so, and they only take up 8 CSize units of space (as 
    compared to 200 and more for many other big-ticket items).  Take them to Axia, 
    and you can put them on the seller's board for 4.75 million and perhaps a 
    little more. Of course, this requires you have at *least* a few million in 
    operating capital on-hand.  If you don't, try mining first.  
       
       
    *  Did I mention NEVER run out of Ore IV?
    
    If you did, I hope you made a backup.  If not, don't worry; the beginning of 
    the game goes much more smoothly the second or sixth time.
    
    
    *  Save, save, save!
    
    Make frequent backup copies of your player disk -- keep a few staggered copies 
    at various points, as you don't want to find that all your backup copies leave 
    you stranded without enough Ore IV to get you to the next drydock or starport.
        
    Yes, this is the functional equivalent of "save early, save often."  This is 
    an "iron man"-style game -- saving is automatic and there is no choosing to 
    save to alternative slots and so forth.  When you die, it eagerly writes to 
    that player disk of yours.  Fortunately, with emulation, it's as easy as CTRL-
    click-and-drag to make a quick backup copy.
    
    
    *  Use saved states, but be very careful with them.
    
    Be sure and take advantage of the ability to save game states (ALT-Z and ALT-L 
    in Atari800Win).  It's quite useful for figuring out how the game works in 
    order to be play a bit better, say, for example, in ship-to-ship combat.
    
    BUT -- be warned; the game, like more modern computer software, uses the disk 
    as "virtual memory," at least for player data, and, when you do a saved state, 
    you are *only* saving what was in the computer's actual memory, *not* what was 
    on the disk at the moment you did it. If it saves something to disk and then 
    you reload a saved state that expects to find different data on the disk, it 
    can create unexpected problems, potentially ruining the ongoing game (but you 
    have a backup, so it's no problem right?).
    
    So be careful with those save states.  If you really want to be safe, quickly 
    create a temporary backup of the disks at the moment of the save so that you 
    can revert them to the state they were at the moment of the save state.
    
    
    *  So you've made a ton of money, bought all the best upgrades, and are king 
       of the spacelanes.  What now?
    
    The actual plotline of the game kicks in about the fourth year of gameplay 
    (year 106, as the game starts in year 102), giving you plenty of time to roam 
    to your heart's content. Just expect it around that time.
    
    I have not yet had time to play the plotline part of the game, but I will 
    continue this FAQ when I have time to get back into the game.
    (Update Nov. 2009 -- I really didn't get around to it. If anyone would like to 
    submit helpful information on the rest of the game, it would be appreciated.)
    
    
    ==========
    CONCLUSION
    ==========
    
    I hope you have found this FAQ useful.  If so, I'd love to hear about it.
    
    Also, if you happen to have or know where I can get disk images of version 1.3 
    of the game, or better or different disk images of versions 1.1 or 1.2, please 
    let me know.  I have been looking all over for them.
    
    This document is free for all to use and distribute in unmodified form.  I 
    would appreciate any suggestions for additions or modifications to this 
    document, and will update it as appropriate.
    
    
    
    ===============
    Version History
    ===============
    
    Version 0.8
      Nov. 28, 2009
      Released after great delay
    
    Version 0.7
      Sep. 2, 2006
      First draft
    

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