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Traders of Known Space is a free game from Valiant Galaxy Associates. It takes place in the Valiant Galaxy setting and occurs roughly 1100 years in the future. The year is 3051 and the human federations of colonies are at war with the aliens known as the grays. However, even during a war, commerce continues. In this game you take the role of a merchant trading between various planets. You must evaluate your cash, buy fuel, upgrade your ship, avoid hazards, fight space battles, and eventually make as large a pile of credits as possible.
Traders of Known Space is a menu driven audio game. You do not have to position a gun in a specific point to fire it; you do not have to worry about real time concerns: you only have to keep track of resources and attempt to rack up as high a score as possible. The game can be played with limited keyboarding skills. There are four recommended game lengths:
In addition, the game also presents three starting setups:
The object of the game is to amass as much wealth and as many points as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Our hope for this game is that it will provide an introduction to both the setting of our games and the features in some of our other games. Good fortune go with you.
Traders of Known Space should operate on any Windows computer with Windows XP or later. The game is completely self-voicing and requires no screen reader.
During the game there are two modes: map mode and menu mode. After the initial start menus to begin, The game begins in map mode, with your ship and cursor located on the planet Earth. The map is built at random each time to provide unique challenges for each game. In map mode you may explore the map and move your ship. You access menu mode in two ways. On any planet you may hit enter to open the planet menu for that planet. On any square on the board, by holding enter down, you may open your shipís status menu. Further, if you encounter a combat situation, or a situation where a yes or no input is required, the game will put you in the appropriate menu automatically. In menu mode you make decisions about your ship, your actions, and what to do in critical situations.
The map is 10 by 10 squares. There are ten planets scattered through this area. Further, invisible at the beginning of the game, there are 10 static hazard squares. These appear as you learn about them through information gathering or unfortunate experience. Further, when moving through ďemptyĒ squares, you will occasionally encounter mobile hazards. These appear at random, and can range from highly beneficial to merely annoying to the catastrophically bad.
To explore the map move your arrow keys over the map. The squares are numbered from 0 to 9 with 0 at the far left or top. Thus 0,0 is the top left most square of the board, while 9,9 is the rightmost bottom square of the board. Notice that the Y axis is thus reversed from normal mathematical usage, progressing from 9 at the bottom to 0 at the top. Your arrow is placed automatically on your ship and on the Planet Earth at the beginning of the game. You will hear a clunk sound when you encounter your ship. If you begin exploring and get lost, hitting the h key will take your cursor back to your ship. If a square contains a planet, or a revealed static hazard, this is announced when you arrow into the square. Otherwise, you hear merely the number of your position on the X axis (i.e. left to right). When you move from one row of the map to another, say from row 2 near the top to row 3, the map will announce 3. This lets you know about movement along the Y axis (up and down). (You can change this to read both coordinates every time you move by changing this option in the settings menu.) While exploring you can use control and an arrow to skip to the next planet or hazard in the row or column you are in. If you press alt and an arrow you scroll continuously in the direction chosen. If you wish to move your ship, position your cursor on the ship, and then use shift and an arrow key to move in the desired direction. You will hear engine noise and squares will be announced as normal. If a hazard is encountered, the game will announce it and either apply penalties associated with that hazard, or will enter a menu and give you a chance to decide about it. Some hazards randomly move your ship, so be careful, exploring after striking a hazard is a good idea. In the case of hazards that do damage, the damage to your ship is announced when the hazard is encountered.
Your ship is a merchant ship. Though it can be armed, it is not designed to fight war ships on a regular basis. You have six ship statistics. The following is presented in the same format that the status menu presents them in. The four items that follow the initial six statistics are given to show the other possibilities on the status menu. You can access status menu from most menus within the game, and by pressing enter on any square in map mode and holding it down.
The following hot keys might prove useful during game play.
Most of these are self explanatory.
Start Game: After you click the start game option, you are taken to a menu that asks for your choice of career length. The choices are short career (180 moves), standard career (300 moves), long career (600 moves) or unlimited. Every 12 moves represents a year of game time. Thus short is 15 years, standard is 25 years, long is 50 years, and unlimited goes until the player quits the game. Once you leave this menu, you are taken to a menu that gives a choice of game mode. The three modes are standard, greedy, and aggressive.
Standard: In this scenario your ship has the following statistics:
Greedy: In this mode your ship has the following statistics:
In this mode the ship has the following statistics:
Open Documentation: This option opens the documentation file from the main menu. Of course, you're reading this, so it's quite possible that you already know that.Settings Menu: Settings contains seven options. They are set to a default level that seems optimal for game play. You are free to change these and the game will save your preferences. The options are:
Music Volume: This is toggled with the left and right arrow. This sets the volume of the background music.
Voice over volume is set with left and right arrow. It controls the volume of the game's voice.
Speech File Cue Before End Delay: This setting controls how much pause occurs between speech objects in the game. Making this pause shorter makes the speech sound choppier. Making it longer makes the speech more natural. If the delay is too long speech sounds play too close together.
Announce Menu Indexes: This toggles whether menu position is announced. I.e. Start Game 1 of 6.
Pause Before Announcing Menu Indexes: The game tells you where in the menus you are at the end of each item. This is called the menu index. So for instance, on the main menu, start game is followed by the announcement 1 of 6. This merely enables or disables a pause between the item and the menu index.
Announce coordinates has two settings. The default setting announces movement along the axis on which you just moved. If you are at x 2 y 3 and you move right one square the announcement would be 3 to let you know you moved one square right on the x axis. Conversely, if you moved up one square, the announcement would be 2 to let you know you decreased value on the y axis. You can also set this to read both X and Y coordinates when you move. It is toggled with the left and right arrow keys.
Return to Main Menu: This returns you to the main menu of the game.
Learn Game Sounds: As you scroll through this menu, the game announces the soundís function in the game and then plays one or more variations of the sound.
High Scores Menu: This menu gives a list of the current top ten high scores, the date they were achieved, and the time of the game during that day. This information can also be seen in the end of game menu.
This menu gives you options at each planet you stop at.
Buy Goods: This allows you to purchase items. Every planet has the potential to stock one of the ten products: scientific equipment, radioactive isotopes, anti-viral drugs, entertainment systems, high yield wheat, endentured servants, military grade weapons, nanocomputers, weather satellites, or robot repair parts. Each item has a bulk and price. The prices very based on supply on the current planet. The range is from 0 to 250 units of any given product. Buying at a time when the supply is over 200 is most advantageous. To buy the item in question you can use your right arrow to select the number of items and enter to buy, or hit enter to input the number you wish to purchase. If you hit the hot key M in this menu you will get more information about the product you are currently on.
Sell Goods: This menu mirrors the buy menu but shows only items you have on board ship. Their prices are shown. Price is determined by current demand on the planet you are on. If a good is in abundance it will command a far lower cost than if it is scarce. Scarcity is defined by the game as less than 76 of any given product. As in the buy menu, pressing m will reveal more information about the product in question.
Refuel: This option allows you, for a price, to refuel your ship. Fuel prices vary on the fuel supply available.
Repair: This option allows you for a price to repair your ship. Repair prices vary on availability of repair parts.
Upgrade: This option allows you for a price to upgrade various attributes of your ship. Note that not all portions of a ship may be upgraded on every planet. Pressing the m key for more information will give you information about each upgrade. The upgrades do the following:
Gather Information: This option allows you to spend cash to try and gather information about known hazards and prices of products on other planets. It is possible for information to be out of date. If the planet is more than six squares away, chances are information will be out of date concerning it. Information costs five credits per piece gathered.
Review Information: This option allows you to hear the most recently gathered information.
Planet Locations: This menu shows the x and y coordinates of every planet on the map. It also gives relative directions to the planet as well, e.g. Vanaheim is three north and two west.
Retire: This option appears only in unlimited mode, and only after two years of trading. It allows you to quit the game with your cash, life, and ship intact. Note that regardless of the career mode, if your ship becomes disabled or destroyed while your career is still in progress, you lose a large amount of points.
Status: This gives you a readout of your shipís current status as well as your current cash. For more information see The Ship and Its Statistics above.
When you encounter certain hazards, you will have to make decisions. A brief discussion of these possibilities follows.
Evade: Selecting this option burns 20 fuel and moves your ship in a random direction one square to try and escape the current danger. It also assumes defensive maneuvering and gives you some chance to avoid enemy fire.
Run For It: This option assumes you just pour on the speed and hope you can outrun your aggressor. It makes your ship more likely to be hit if you fail, but your chances of success are greater than with evade.
Bribe: This option allows you to offer cash to an attacking force to avoid the combat.
Negotiate: This option allows you to try and talk your way out of the situation.
Surrender: This option allows you to turn over your ship and goods to your captors. This often ends badly, but in some situations itís the only way to survive.
Send Mayday: Doing this may alert the Solarian patrol to your plight and save you from attackers. This is also used to save your ship when you have run out of fuel, but that option appears on Emergency Menu below.
Scan: This option allows you to scan the enemy vessel to see what sort of threat they pose.
Fight: This option will attack the enemy. This usually ends in a battle until one or the other combatant flees. This option assumes no special precautions or maneuvers on your part.
All out Attack: You sacrifice some of your defensive capability to gain a bonus to attacking the enemy.
Jam Sensors: This attack decreases your chances to hit, but decreases the chances the enemy will hit you as well.
Do Nothing: This option does nothing and waits for the enemy to make an action. This is sometimes beneficial if the enemy wishes no combat, but sometimes cuts off other modes of action such as bribery or negotiation.
Shipís Status: As with the planet menu, this submenu displays your shipís current condition as well as your current cash levels.
This menu appears in certain specialized situations. Primarily, when you have been captured by enemies or run out of fuel.
Attempt Escape: This option allows a captured space merchant an attempt at escape. Failure results in death, and escape leaves one a pauper.
Send Mayday: This option sends a call to the Solarian patrol. The lucky few are rescued or saved from the tortures of pirates and aliens. You can also send a mayday if you are out of fuel. If the patrol finds you, they will partially refuel you, and possibly grant you funds to help in trading with Solarian Federated Colonies.
End Game: This option ends the game.
1. Keep an eye on ship statistics. If your ship is in disrepair or is short on fuel, you could be in big trouble. The most important statistics are:
Secondarily, you need to worry about:
2. At the beginning of the game, think small. Small amounts of any one cargo, small distances to your target. You donít have a lot of fuel, money, or cargo space. You canít afford to make big mistakes.
3. Try to set up trade routes that encompass more than one or two planets. Your chances are much better if you can travel between three to six planets. Making a large loop helps with this.
4. Try not to restrict yourself to buying a lot of one product. Itís best to diversify your cargo so that if a planet is not buying radioactive isotopes, you can sell them military grade weapons instead.
5. Planets top out at 250 units of any given item. Itís best to buy when theyíre over 200 in supply and sell when thereís less than 100. As you gain experience you can make better judgements about good times to buy and sell.
6. Donít be afraid to lose money if you need cash in a hurry for repairs or fuel.
7. Buy fuel sparingly until supplies are high and the price is good.
8. Try and keep your ship in good repair.
9. Donít begin upgrading your ship until you have at least 2500 credits and preferably wait until you have 4000. Upgrading effectively means spending at least 500-1500 credits at a time. Before 2500 credits, you just donít have this kind of cash to burn. To optomize your chances, it's a good idea to upgrade integrity, engines, guns, and cargo space. If you are not interested in combat, ignore all but cargo space and deflector.
10. If you are moved by a hazard or are struck by one, check the map to see where you were shoved to, and check ship statistics to see what if anything was damaged.
11. Remember that you can move the arrows around the map without moving your ship. The ship only moves if you hold down shift. Never be afraid to explore.
12. If you encounter pirates, grays, oloi, or other hostile ships, avoiding the fight entirely is better for you in most cases. If you do want to fight, you want to have more guns than deflectors, and as many engines as you can. All of this aid in combat.
13. Gathering information can and does help, but information decays in value very quicly. If a planet that the info discusses isnít within 3-6 squares chances are youíll get there too late.
14. Donít obsess over one item, one type of cash scheme, one statistic, one planet. Be flexible.
Each product you can buy or sell is created by a different company. These companies have been given somewhat whimsical names for the possible humor value. Each product has a cost and a bulk. The cost depends on availability on a specific planet, and its bulk is constant. Planets have from 0-250 of any given item, and the price slides downward the more units there are in the supply. A few notes about each type of product are given below.
Scientific equipment: Built by Egghead Enterprises, scientific equipment ranges from medical or laboratory equipment to robotic exploration machines used for surveying possible mineral wealth. It is a midrange item in terms of price, and takes 2 units of cargo space per unit of equipment bought.
Radioactive Isotopes: Produced by Dayglow Isotopes, a subsidiary of Egghead Enterprises, radioactive isotopes are minerals or chemicals that radioactively decay. They are used in scientific applications as well as a component for fuels in fusion reactors. They are an expensive item, and take up 2 cargo units per unit of isotopes. This is primarily due, not to their own bulk, but to the necessary precautions, shielding, and special handling needs of the cargo.
Antiviral Drugs: Produced by Viraline Pharmaseudicals, antiviral drugs are cheap and nonbulky items that take only 1 unit of cargo per unit of drugs. They are badly needed on some planets, and used exclusively in medical applications.
Entertainment Systems: Galtronic Entertainmentís new console entertainment systems can plug into any standard holographic display and produce quality emersies, standard Tri-D programming, games, and other forms of distraction. They are a midrange purchase, and take 2 units of cargo per unit of entertainment system. They are greatly valued on less hospitable worlds and stations however.
High Yield Wheat: Jeanís Split Wheat is a high yield, genetically engineered, and nutriciously safe alternative to natural wheat. Incorporating numerous defenses against local parasites and blights, as well as being guaranteed to grow almost anywhere, the wheat is a standard food stuff on most colony worlds. It is inexpensive and as seeds very low on bulk (1 unit of cargo hold to one unit of wheat).
Indentured Servants: Provided by Starserve, the largest labor organizer in the galaxy, indentured servants provide a cheap alternative to robots in those social situations where robots are gauche or impractical. These men and women are rigorously screened, tested, and trained, and are legally bound to their contracts for 2 years. They are a midrange item, and due to the necessities of caring for human beings and providing extra food, etc, they are bulky taking 5 cargo units per unit of endentured servants. However, they help to shift populations from overpopulated systems to those in need of labor.
Military Grade Weapons: Produced by Klick-Klack and Company, these high grade military style weapons provide security to hundreds of colony worlds and ships. The standard package, represented here, includes battle bots, small gun emplacements, and radar tracking rocket stations. They are expensive and bulky taking 5 units of cargo per unit. However, the peace of mind of knowing that no gray or oloi raiding party will take you completely by surprise and unprepared is beyond price.
Nanocomputers: Produced by NanoDrive, these tiny computers can be placed in communications devices, in standard wall panels, or within a host operatorís own body. They provide solid state memory and drives, and are guaranteed to be the fastest and cheapest computers available. They are midrange purchases, but are the quintessence of compact taking only 1 unit of cargo per unit of nanocomputers shipped.
Weather Satellites: Climasat the proud producers of the galaxyís premium climate control and weather predictive satellite technology ships these items everywhere. They are expensive, and extremely bulky (10 units of cargo per unit of purchase). They are used on many colony worlds to mitigate the harsh conditions faced by colonists.
Robot Repair Parts: Produced by Stellar Robotics, these repair parts are necessary to keep the many robotic laborers, law enforcement, battle bots, and gladiatorial robots, in good repair and operating at peak efficiency. They are cheap and not bulky taking only one unit of cargo per unit shipped.
Earth: Also known as Terra, Gaia, and other names, Earth is the home planet of the human race. It circles a G-type star at a distance of 93 million miles and is considered a standard by human explorers to classify the habitability of other worlds.
Terra Nova: New Earth, as its name means, is very Earth-like. It circles a G-type star at a range of 90 million miles and has many commonalities with Earth. It developed primitive animal and insect life, as well as gymnospermic plants. The planet is a powerhouse of economic development, and is one of the largest and best known colonies of the human race.
Hobbsí Planet: Named for Captain James Hobbs the discoverer, who died upon his landing upon it, Hobbsí Planet is a volcanic nightmare. Besides the precarious human colony there, the khrol have an outpost. The inhabitants produce a great deal of mineral wealth, and the planet regularly turns a profit, but most of its colonists save their fortunes to buy tickets to pleasanter climes.
Vesta: Named for the Roman goddess of the hearth, Vesta is an Earth-like planet. It circles an F-type star at a distance of 120 million miles. Its thick atmosphere and high carbon dioxide content make it a hot humid world of jungles and swamps. While not ideal territory for human settlement, the planetís pharmacological and other biodiversity-based products have made it an important stop in galactic commerce.
Vanaheim: Named for the home of the Norse deities known as the vanir, the earth-like planet Vanaheim is a cold world. It circles its g-type star at a range of 105 million miles, and only parts of the world are habitable. It sports some of the most beautiful glaciers in the galaxy, but other than its mineral wealth and ski resorts, Vanaheim is mostly waste land.
Darling: Named by the wife of Captain Francis MacDonald, because her first impression of the world on a vision screen was that ďitís just darling, simply darling Francis.Ē the planet called Darling is an oceanic world. Its one small continent (smaller than Australia) is circled by large archipelagoes of islands. The worldís scientific mysteries include a large amphibious creature similar to earthís whales as well as squid-like ďkrakensĒ that live at great depths. While not as inhospitable as some worlds, Darling is no pleasure trip, and it requires many imports.
Chiron Station: Named for the mythical centaur that taught Greek heroes, Chiron Station circles a great gas giant 250 million miles out from an A type star. It is a scientific station concerned with experiments and the gathering of knowledge. It is a tough assignment, requires many imports, and produces a great deal of knowledge.
Vishnu: Named for the preserver of Hindu mythology, Vishnu is an earth-like planet that circles a G type star at 95 million miles. It is a profitable colony, and sports nearly as large a population as Earth. It is advanced, and has numerous industries and exports to ship to other colonies.
Paradise Station: Named in a fit of public-relations optomism, the name did not inspire more immigrants to this barren space station circling an asteroid in a white dwarf system. The place is a penal colony and scientific station, and requires many imports.
Grunwelt: This planet was settled by German speakers and discovered by Captain Gerald Grunwald. The name means green world and it is an earth-like planet. It circles a type K star at 68 million miles, and though its climate is tough, it is a profitable colony.
High Energy Pulsar: A pulsar is an electromagnetically active stage in a starís death. The star rotates rapidly sending out pulses of electromagnetic energy. Pulsars take various forms, but the ones described here send out broad bands of electromagnetic energy that destroys ship electronics and cause damage to systems. They are evaded as quickly as possible since staying in such a system causes numerous failures usually leading to death.
Cloud of Dark Matter: These clouds are composed of dark matter, the missing portion of the universe that makes up the vast majority of the invisible mass of creation. It is not especially dangerous, but slows ships using the Montclerc drive and causes them delays.
Hyperspace Distortions: These ripples or waves in hyperspace cause ships using the Montclerc drive to end up at a random destination. Sometimes it can be as near as one sector away from the previous course, but ships have reported entering hyperspace distortions only to find themselves at the other end of known space.
Meteor Activity: This represents a large asteroid field, meteor shower, or cometís debris cloud. It damages any ship passing through.
Large Debris Field: These debris fields can be the remnants of planets, the random junk left after a space battle, the remains of vacuum-based construction projects and the like. While the Solarian Patrol attempts to keep all debris fields marked on current charts, new ones pop up with depressing regularity.
Solar Storm: A solar storm is usually the electromagnetic energy produced by a dying star. The sun, slowly tearing itself apart, generates light, heat, and other forces at great distances inflicting damage on passing ships. They are avoided and evaded whenever possible.
Pirates: These human vessels prey on honest merchant ships. One reason why more and more merchants are arming.
Gray Warship: The grays are currently at war with the Solarian Confederation. Their ships do not always attack human merchant vessels, but caution is advised.
Solarian Patrol Ship: The Solarian Patrol is the largest force for peace in Solarian Federated Space. The patrol rescues those in need, attacks the enemies of the Federation, and keeps the peace.
Oloi Raider: As the war between the grays and the humans has heated up, the oloi have begun dispatching raider vessels to destroy human ships. As of yet they are few and far between, but inevitably hostile.
Solar Flare: Not as deadly as a solar storm, a solar flare is a large discharge of plasma, and electromagnetic energy from the surface of a star. Large ones can reach tremendous distances.
Meteor Collision: This represents a collision with a single rogue meteor, meteorite, or other piece of space junk.
Ship System Breakdown: Any shipís system can go at any moment. Usually this is merely a delay.
The Valiant Galaxy is home to a number of nonhuman species. A brief discussion of them follows.
The grays are a race of aliens. They were known on old Earth as far back as the 20th century in the lore of UFO abductions. The grays stand approximately 130-150 centimeters tall. Their eyes are disproportionately large, and some xenobiologists believe that they dwell on a planet that is far from its star. The graysí heads are also large in proportion to their bodies. They prefer curves and wide angles in architecture and engineering when possible, and it is thought that many flying saucer reports are of gray ships.
The gray is otherwise human-like: two small ears, a nose, a mouth, two arms, two legs. Their hands are fine-boned and long and have three fingers and a thumb. They are completely hairless, and some believe that their metabolism is very fast. Some reports, at any rate, mention frequent eating or drinking.
The grays are masters of technology and some report that they also have mastered extrasensory powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, and more exotic disciplines. They have been known by other races, most notably the svrak and the khrol. In all cases, they have appeared to spy on a race at first, then later abduct and experiment upon its members. Many have suspected that the grays have sinister plans. Their sudden surprise attacks on the Solarian Confederation in the years between 3050 and 3053 seem to support this view. Since then the war has spread and engulfed the Interstellar Union as well as Yungdun, Khrol, and Oloi.
The khrols are silicon-based life forms. They appear to be a strange conglomeration of crystals that move. Khrols can grow multiple arms, legs, sensory nodes, and other features, and even change color over time. It is impossible to give a uniform description of the race. However, the average khrol is usually 1.2 meters to 1.7 meters in height. Larger khrols are reported, but they are rare. Most khrols grow two lower extremities and two upper extremities to better blend in with the majority of known races, but khrols that live in svrak territory often grow multiple legs and arms. Likewise, the khrol can have multiple sensory nodes, and khrols see no need to limit these to merely the puny number normally employed by other races. Khrol can see farther into the ultraviolet and infrared than humans, and their hearing runs much lower and higher in frequency. Khrols have almost no sense of smell or taste, but their sense of touch is very developed. However, khrols do not feel except with special sensory nodes in their fingers or at specific points on their bodies. They reproduce by budding a new khrol. This is a matter of individual choice, and there appears to be no real consistancy about when where or why a khrol decides to bud.
The khrol have one last peculiarity: they have a racial memory. If two khrols meet, they may touch sensory nodes and exchange some or all their individual experiences. Khrols naturally only come into contact with a limited number of khrols in its lifetime that wish to exchange knowledge, but life-sharing as it is called is common among what is, for the sake of ease of nomenclature, called kinship groups by xenoanthropologists.
Khrols eat rocks, preferring those rich in silica. They have a long lifespan and it is estimated that they average roughly 1200 years. Khrol are masters of architecture, building, and computers. Their computers are legendary among the races of known space, and they are very logical in their dealings. They dislike unsolved problems and find ďtheoreticalĒ discussions often troubling unless the theory fully explains all aspects of the topic under discussion. The khrol were introduced to humankind by the yungduns, and they were first contacted in 2963. The khrol find humans maddening and fascinating.
The oloi are an imperialistic expansionist power that is composed of individualistic warriors. An adult olonae (the singular form of oloi) stands 2 meters tall. However, their stooped posture makes them appear shorter. They are ape-like and appear to be the only other mammalian race thus far encountered besides grays and humans. The oloi are bipedal and extremely hairy. They are immensely strong for their size, and are fond of brawls. They have a dense bone structure and their long arms give them an advantage in any hand to hand fighting. They have better senses of smell and hearing than humans, and their night vision is better.
The oloi are a warrior culture and view weakness as contemptible. They live approximately 80 years if they do not die in battle or a peace time brawl. Their appearance, though bestial and frightening, is less alien than almost any other race. The oloi are vegetarians and regard meat eaters with disgust. They have warred against the Solarian Federation in the past, and they lurk on the edge of Interstellar Unionís space waiting for the right opportunity to burst into action.
The svrak (singular and plural) are an alien race. They evolved from a beetle-like insectile creature. The svrakís manipulative appendages developed from sensory antennae and still possess this function as well. This makes svrak ultrafine distinguishers of touch, taste, and smell, and capable of extremely small manipulations. They are 1.3-1.9 meters in length and usually stand about 1 meter off the ground. They are hexipedal having six legs. They have compound eye spots and can see farther into the infrared spectrum than humans. They have membranes that vibrate and provide the equivalent of hearing, but their hearing is much less developed than humans. However, their senses of smell, taste, and touch are extremely delicate, and svrak can distinguish far more than any human in these sense areas.
The svrak have a communal society which, though very regulated, is not the hive mind of most premodern imaginings of bug-like aliens. The svrak sport large mandibles and this combined with their other insectile features make them frightening to some humans. However, the svrak are a peace loving race. They eat their own dead and mostly subsist on honey globules produced by their feeder caste.
The castes from top to bottom are: royalty, bureaucrat, ambassador, warrior, worker, feeder. Humans most often interact with svrak warrior or ambassador caste members. Svrak find other more individualized races confusing to deal with and upsetting. They feel closest to the khrols and often combine with them on electronic processes. Svrak microcircuitry is renouned throughout known space. The svrak avoid entanglements with warlike races, but will fight to defend their home worlds.
Yungduns most resemble the deinonycus of Earthís fossil record. They are bipedal saurians who use their tails to balance their movements as they walk. Yungduns range from 1.6 to 2 meters in height. Their tail can be an additional meter to 2 meters in length. Their skin is a mottled gray brown with green highlights. The yungdun has wide set eyes that allow it to see a wider angle than humans. They have a superior sense of smell, often extending their tongues to taste the air similar to snakes. Their sense of hearing is somewhat duller than a humanís. They have three fingers and a thumb on their hands. Proportionally, they are somewhat weaker than a human of similar height and mass, but since they average taller and bulkier than most humans, the average yungdun is slightly stronger than the average human. They are sluggish in cold conditions, but they are warm blooded creatures. Some xenobiologists believe that the differing skin patterns on a yungdun reveals its regional or tribal affiliations, but the yungduns have never confirmed or dismissed this suspicion. However, it is known that yungdunsí boney head crests do appear to denote some form of rank or caste within their society. Yungduns with small crests are always defferential to yungduns with larger crests. The yungduns prefer ramps to stairs and while their claws have shrunken to vestigial nails, they are still sharper and stronger than human finger or toenails. Yungduns dislike fabrics or surfaces that catch their claws.
The yungduns are a slow and methodical race. They prefer to weigh decisions carefully and dislike surprises. They are skillful bargainers and merchants and are great traders. Yungduns are very individualistic and believe in healthy competition. It is rumored that yungdun hatchlings are forced to compete until the strongest have eaten the weakest, but this rumor has never been confirmed. The yungduns have trading posts in almost every part of known space. They love shiny objects, and are especially fond of metalwork. Yungduns, though not warlike as a rule, are not opposed to warfare, and their vessels are armed and armored. They detest pirates and smugglers as well as sales taxes. The yungduns were the first extraterrestrial race encountered by humans, during the Pax Solaris, and proved to be the link to other races such as the svrak and the khrol. Yungduns were first encountered in 2946 and were soon setting up trading negotiations with both the Solarian Planetary Federation and the Interstellar Union. The yungduns seem to favor the IU but this is probably due to the IUís lower taxes.
This age saw the rise of computers, the internet (a primitive forerunner of the infonet), robotics, virtual reality, and other common technologies. This era also first saw the use of fission and later fusion weapons. As the era progressed, technology advanced and computers became smaller, virtual reality improved, robots became more sophisticated, and cybernetic prosthetics began to make inroads in medical technology. The advances in the biological sciences led to stem cell generated organs and to large scale cloning of food plants, domestic animals, and toward the end of the period, human beings. The age saw increased competition for limited resources: petroleum, coal, and fresh water. Social unrest caused by resource competition led to terrorism and wars for control of resource rich regions.The Fusion Age (2200-2400)
At the dawn of the fusion age, fusion reactors were made feasible. Further, better control mechanisms for regulating nuclear reactions made nuclear power safer and more attractive to governments that could afford it. Also at the beginning of the era, human cloning became a reality. To help combat the societal unrest and threats to human safety that this technology created, the existing forms of world government such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, International Monitary Fund, etc, were strengthened to form an actual world government. Among the first actions of this government was the formation of laws against the rights of artificial people and limitations placed on the use of cloning technology. With the formation of a world government, the need for new sources of necessary minerals etc forced the government to fully fund space exploration. However, the international, now multinational, megacorporations had already funded space travel. Governmental and commercial interests fought for control of the Earthís solar system. However, this competition led to the exploration and exploitation of Earthís orbit, Luna, Mars, Mercury, and the upper atmosphere of Venus.Era of Expansion (2400-2750)
At the beginning of this period, the miniaturization of computers reaches the goal of computer designers and nanocomps are born. With this advance, the virtual reality net known commercially as the Infonet forms. Corporations, now reigned in by the Earthgov, begin exploiting the asteroid belt and the first long haul colonization attempts are made to the Jovian moons. Ganymede is colonized as is Calisto, but the Europa colony is lost. Near the middle of the period Johann Eschelmann discovers the physical warping effects of subatomic space on macrospace. Using this knowledge in 2580, Jean Rene Montclerc develops the Montclerc drive which makes interstellar travel possible. The Montclerc drive arrives just in time. Other scientists had managed to miniaturize fusion cells to the point of making energy weapons feasible, and warfare on Earth and in the inner planets had suddenly become a terrible reality. The race, in a desperate attempt to avoid racial suicide expands outwards, first to the outer planets of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Proserpina, but also begin exploring the nearest stars likely to have Earth-like planets. The first interstellar colonies are established. The race expands, but communications are still limited to the planetary level. Reliable interplanetary communication is slow and no form of communication can bridge the stars.The Consolidation Period (2750-2850)
During this time the Terran colonies are consolidated, new colonies are established, and older ones are absorbed. Humans split into the Solarian Federation of planets (more commonly called the Solarian Confederation or the Federation) associated closely with old Earth and the Interstellar Union formed from colonies opposed to old Earthís domination of interstellar trade and politics. . Communications are still slow, but it is now possible to send messages to interstellar destinations. Cybernetic enhancement and genetic manipulation have become commonplace for those who can afford it, and robotic gladiator arenas begin developing.First Interstellar Wars (2850-2900)
The First interstellar wars take place between the IU and the SF. After bitter battles, some that occur after the final peace negotiations are made, the hostilities end in a Solarian victory. The time is wild with pirates, new illegal colonies, and rampant civil disobedience. Robotic gladiators, known as battle bots, become commonplace and a source of entertainment. Miniaturization of fusion cells continues, and hand-held particle beams become commoner. Trade expands, as does smuggling due to the expansion of the black market caused by widespread shortages.Pax Solaris (2900-3050)
The first generation of this period is spent in quelling pirates and smugglers. The Solarian Patrol ships create a lasting peace. During this time humans make first contact. There is a time of peace for the most part, and the old planets of the IU gather their strength. Near the end of this age they agitate for self government. The aliens are mostly peaceful: svrak, yungduns, and khrol. But the humans first encounter the oloi and later the grays. A brief war with the oloi ends in a negotiated peace. There are advances in all technologies from contacts with other races. Svrak are able to design microcircuitry of immense subtlety and the khrol can create faster and more efficient nanocomps. Yungdun regenerative technology holds out the promise of long life treatments for humans, and the grays demonstrate how human DNA can be manipulated to increase incidence of psionic wild talents.Second Interstellar Wars (3050-present)
The grays attack humans suddenly, rapidly, at many points, and with no warning. Many human ships and Solarian patrol vessels are destroyed before the human federations are even aware that hostilities are commenced. An age of warfare begins. At first the IU is neutral and the SF and its allies among the svrak and khrol fight the grays. However, when the grays invade IU space, the oloi begin trying to take advantage of the situation.
Primary coding was done by Aaron Speares with some minor code work done by Jeremy Brown. Likewise, most of the creative design was constructed by Jeremy Brown with a lot of objections and suggestions by Aaron Speares. The voice of Valiant Galaxy Associates' applications is Aaron Spears with ample criticism from all of the beta testing team. He can't help the accent--they live way out thar in the country! Documentation was written by Jeremy Brown with objections and useful input from Aaron Speares. Further, in regards the documentation, our thanks go to Michael Taboada and Rich Maroney for important typo and html checks.
Valiant Galaxy Associates would like to thank the following people:
First and foremost, Philip Bennefall, creator of BGT (Blastbay Game Toolkit). This powerful scripting language is what makes the Valiant Galaxy come alive. Philip kindly made changes we needed to his latest version of BGT available at Blastbay Studio's web site.Dennis "Dentin" Towne, creator of the mud Alter Aeon, for his advice and coding expertise. A lot of this would have looked quite different without his input.
Michael Taboada from Speed of Sound Gaming for the background music we used.
Rich Maroney for his work on the game sounds.Our beta testing team:
The beta testers suffered through hazards, more hazards with no damage announcements, double dip recessions, combat that went on forever due to the omission of damage code, economic catastrophes, the dreaded loss of life due to lack of fuel, hurried versions, forgotten entries on change logs, and all the other normal problems of business persons and then some. Thank you all, you have been a great help and we valued your feedback and patience.
We'd also like to thank the good folks of the AudioGames.net forums who not only got excited about both Interceptor and Traders of Known Space, but gave us a lot of good feedback and suggestions for an expansion to TKS. Version 5 comes out of much of their thoughtfulness and criticism.