In Traders of Known Space, you are a merchant during the Second Interstellar Wars (see Valiant Galaxy timeline) and are struggling to make a profit. You must travel from planet to planet, upgrade your ship, and sell goods at a profit. However, space is not empty! Pirates, hostile aliens, natural hazards, and the remains of less fortunate travelers confront you.
TKS uses two modes: a menu mode for interaction with a planet or other ship, and a map mode for navigation. There are ten planets scattered over the ten by ten map, and each has different prices for their goods. You can fly between planets freely taking any course you choose. Hazards are revealed as they are encountered. Some are static and will remain on the map while others are mobile and will only be encountered once as you move. You can upgrade your ship, gather information about what products are selling where, and of course sell your cargo for a profit.
The game has four lengths of play: short lasting 15 years (180 moves), standard which lasts twenty-five years (300 moves), long lasting fifty years (600 moves), or unlimited in which the player may quit at any time after two years. The game includes three ship configurations: greedy in which the player starts with a stripped down ship and more cash, standard in which the ship is unarmed, but the player has a all other systems and a medium amount of cash, and agressive where the player has a stripped down but armed ship. The combinations of choice and the randomness of the map make the game extremely replayable.
TKS is self-voicing. The game uses menus for interaction with ships or planets and a map mode for moving about the map. You do not have to position a weapon in a certain position to fire it successfully. Further, if you have to step away from your computer, your space adventure will be waiting for you. TKS can take as little as fifteen minutes to play, or may be enjoyed for hours. Best of all, the game is completely free. New markets await, won't you come and make a profit?