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Crafting a True Startopia

The image from Startopia's loading screen. Note the "GB" sticker.

I’m in an empty space station again, just me and my handy AI, the one with the British accent and dry sense of humor (or is that humour?) to match. No clients this time, no pressure to cater to the specific whims of an alien race, it’s just me and a couple of other upstart administrators competing for the public’s cash on our own terms.

The competition gets snarky at times.
The competition gets snarky at times.

The basics have been provided and are awaiting me in crates: a port, an energy collector, a berth, and so on, along with a few of the cheapest, barest-bones Scuzzers available. I open some crates, lay down the guidelines for the Scuzzers of where I want things to go, and they get to building. As the structures go up, the first few guests arrive, and the computer tells me some crucial, basic problems I must deal with as soon as possible.

Your visitors are hungry.
Your visitors are tired.
Your visitors are lovesick.

Unfortunately, the Scuzzers can only work so fast, and as new visitors are wont to do when they enter a bare bones space station, they head for the third and highest level, the Biodeck. In the meantime, I begin unlocking gates, terraforming the Biodeck, and hiring employees, while the only peep I hear regarding my competition is usually in the form of them crowing about their technological advances. In the midst of all this, I get a call from Arona Daal.

Arona is a notorious wheeler dealer in this part of the galaxy, specializing in nothing, overcharging on everything, and always with the smooth sales pitch. I buy a few things from him, against my better judgement, but the one thing I’m after the most is a Star Dock. It’s expensive, but it will enable merchants other than Arona to drop by, merchants who can offer me much better prices for many of the same items. Still, every once in awhile, Arona will have something that I would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere (like that most bizarre of alien amusements, the Oroflex), so I humor his sales pitch and take a quick look at his wares whenever he stops by.

Oh noes Skrashers D:
Oh noes Skrashers D:

My wing of the station is coming along nicely, despite a vermin problem that resulted in infected visitors, and then, Skrashers. There’s also the undercover agents and assorted other criminal scum, shooting up the place, planting bombs, and generally making station management a bit more of a hassle than it already is. I go into damage control mode when these sorts of disruptions happen, which more often than not results in me hiring more Kasvagorian security agents and stocking up on Security Scuzzers. There’s also the matter of the Grey doctor who I didn’t actually hire, hanging out in the sick bay as though he was just one of the employees. I’m not quite sure how to handle him, especially since his resume leaves much to be desired, but make sure that my sick bay is well-staffed and the docs that do work for me know what they’re doing.

The other managers don’t bother me… much. They probably sent those spies over, but have no real proof that they did. Ultimately, all their efforts are futile as I meet the terms of our competition first and they leave for parts unknown. I continue building up my wing of the station, adding more entertainments for the guests on the Pleasure Deck, hiring and promoting employees, and just generally making sure everything’s in order and everyone’s happy. It’s a good job.

Special Stage: New copies of Startopia, which runs on Windows 95B/98/Me/XP (not entirely sure about Vista), can be found for less than $20 these days. It’s a great deal for this criminally overlooked space station simulator.

A couple of Startopia links worth checking out:
• RTSC’s Startopia pages – Part fansite, but mostly strategy guide, this is an indispensable Startopia resource.
• Postmortem: Startopia – A look at the game’s production process, with analysis of what went right, and what went wrong.