StarSim Instructions

Author: David Handy <>
Date: 2005-01-24 09:16:29 -0500 (Mon, 24 Jan 2005)



Welcome to StarSim, a space exploration and adventure game!

I wrote StarSim using the Python programming language as an extended code example for people reading my beginning computer programming book Computer Programming is Fun!. I hope people will enjoy playing it; I also hope some people will enjoy taking it apart to figure out how it works.


Key Commands

Key Action
Esc Quit
Tab Send message to selected object (type a line, press Enter)
F1 Show help page
F2 (unused)
F3 Load/Unload/Inventory cargo
F4 (unused)
F5 Launch missile
F6 (unused)
F7 (unused)
F8 Attach/detach tow line
F9 Toggle display mode
F10 Measure distance/fuel to get to selected location
F11 (unused)
F12 (unused)
Up Boost forward
Down Boost backwards
Left Turn left
Right Turn right
Home Go to your home base
PageUp Display previous message
PageDn Display next message

Mouse Commands

Click on a spot of empty space to go to that location.

Click on a starbase to go to it and dock with it. While you are docked, the starbase refuels and re-arms your ship.

Click on a starship or other moving object to follow it.

Either control-click (hold the control key and press the left mouse button) or right click on an object to select it as the target of the next command. Commands that affect the selected object include launch missile, send message, attach tow line, load cargo, etc.

Command Behavior

The toggle display command switches between displaying the scanner readout and your map, as described below.

Display Modes

Use the F9 key to switch between the following display modes.

Scanner Display

When the game first starts up you see the scanner display. This shows all of the objects nearby you. Starbases are round, spinning objects, while starships are shown in a variety of shapes. Stars are little bright dots (they don't do much in the game.) The objects are not shown in their "real" sizes and shapes, but are schematic representations (just like real radar or situation displays use.)

As in a radar display, your position is always in the middle of the display, and other objects are shown in their positions relative to you. However, the "up" direction on the display is always "galactic north". Your ship is drawn with its "nose" pointing in the direction that your ship is currently facing.

Each starship has it's pilot's name displayed immediately above it. If there is no name displayed, that means that it is either an abandoned ship or a robot ship (possibly a Fuon invader).

You can select on object as a destination by clicking it with the left mouse button, or as a command target by control-clicking it or selecting it with the right mouse button.

Map Display

The map display shows a much wider area than the scanner display, but it is limited to only showing the known starbases. Since the map display shows far away objects based on its "memory" and not what it actually "sees", it doesn't make sense for it to show any moveable objects, since they likely won't be there any more.

You can do most of the same things in the map display as you can in the scanner display. You can click on a starbase to go to it; however, be aware that you may be in for a long journey! To cancel a journey, click on a spot nearby.

Don't stay in the map display mode for too long, or you may be surprised by encounters with local objects that you can't see. Switch back to the scanner display mode while you are traveling.

Game Objective

You might be surprised to learn that the objective of the game is not to destroy the Fuon invaders. You really can't destroy them; your missles only paralyze their ships so that you can tow them away. However, you will need to defend yourself and others from Fuon invaders while going about your real objective, which is to serve and protect the interstellar colonies and the other starships in your role as a starship commander.

From time to time you will receive messages on the top of your screen from nearby starbases, telling you of the needs of the various colony starbases, or of starships in distress. Your mission is to help these people. You may need to pick up cargo, such as food or medicine, on some starbases, and deposit it at others.

The missions may require some problem solving. Don't think that you can always make the journey in one jump without refueling! You may need the cooperation of other starships and starbases. Always carry a fuel reserve, and at least a few missles with you, as Fuon invaders can appear any time.