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Old 01-06-2007, 09:22 AM   #21
David Foote

Hey Guys,

I just stumbled across this forum and thought I'd share a little bit of Star Reach/ Space Federation history:

Star Reach as one of the first real time strategy games on the PC market. If I remember correctly the only other RTS games were Dune II, and Herzog Zwei. I hadn't played Dune II, but definitely put some hours into Heroz Zwei.

When I was first pitching the concept and showing the demo the executives at most the game companies I talked with ie.. Broderbund, EA, etc.. had to be convinced as to why it made sense to to allow Real Time in a strategy game.

Also since Star Reach was published by Interplay, Blizzard who was also published by Interplay at the time was looking at pre-release versions of Star Reach while developing Warcraft I.

At the time that we designed Star Reach, CD Rom's were not in popular use so we were constrained to a 3 disk limit ( 3 3.5 inch floppies at 1.44 mb per piece!). Also virtually no one was making LAN based games at this time. Both of these trends changed dramatically 6 months into production, so other RTS games such as Warcraft released with increased content AND LAN support. We wanted to add both of these but would have had to delay the release of the title beyond possible release dates.

We also faced major technical challenges at the time. Since Star Reach was a RTS, we needed to load everything into ram (since pulling data off a 3.5 inch floppy is really slow). So we had to use custom extended memory drivers in order to map everything to ram.

I also overdid it a little bit on sound and music. Early in production we received a prototype of the super cool Gravis Ultrasound card. This card was capable of playing 16 channels of 16-bit sound at the same time with 256K onboard memory. compared to 1 sound channel from the Sound Blaster and no memory. So.. we wrote our own music player and sound driver so that we could utilize all 16 channels, including stereo effects, panning and fading. Its cool that you can play this title on DosBox, but its not quite the same as hearing it on an actual Gravis Ultrasound. Sometime before release I also received a prototype of the Sounblaster 16, which allowed 2 channels of 16-bit sound. So I ended up writing custom drivers for that too. So Star Reach allowed for native mode support of SoundBlaster pro, SB 16, SB, and Gravis. Virtually no game at the time did this, and engineers from both Gravis and Creative labs were referring other developers to us to answer questions.

We also created a sound track using the Amiga Mod format using sampled digital samples.. most games at the time used MIDI synth sounds for music (sounds like a cheap casio keyboard). Its easy to take this stuff for granted now in the days of massive memory and mp3 sound tracks. But it was no joke to try to fit several real sounding songs on 4.2 megs of disk space that loaded up to 2-4 megs of ram maximum along with all of the other graphics etc..

I then added a twist to the Amiga MOD code to allow for sound tracks that changed depending on the level of action in the game.. This didn't become popular in other games for at least 5-6 years.

Creating the arcade input for both joystick and keyboard was also ridiculously difficult. I had to write custom assembly keyboard drivers to be able to detect key press and release. Also many of the keyboard models for PC's had lockout issues.. if you pressed two keys at the same time, one of them wouldn't be detected. This is why they keyboard selection screen includes the ability to press multiple keys at once and see which ones highlight, so that users could choose other keys when they encountered lockout. Joystick support also required direct assembly drivers. Even worse I couldn't find any information about how joysticks worked until i happened to find a Kraft joystick at an electronics store that came with an electrical schematic! this schematic explained which port the joystick talked to.. So I had to write code to keep throwing data at this port and listing to responses while moving the joystick to figure out how it worked. And the responses only made sense because I happened to know how capacitors work.

At least 60% of the code was written in assembly language to enable the targeted FPS Rate of at lest 15, which was a major challenge for this game on the 386 PC's.

Features I wish that we had been able to add in - Campaign mode, Mouse capability, and Network play. Along with much more content. All of these things were primarily limitations of a 3 floppy disk limit, lack of decent network drivers, and numerous technical hurdles to get a game of this scope to play within a 2 megs of RAM on a PC, while inventing the technology to run it and fitting in content and game play in a 12 month production cycle.

It's really great to see some of the feedback on this site. And my regards to the this site for finding and hosting these games.

-David Foote
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Old 06-07-2007, 08:31 PM   #22

I remember playing this when I was about 16 or so (about 10 years ago). In fact, I even remember exactly where I got it: from a bargain bin at CompUSA. I thought the box looked cool so I grabbed it. I absolutely loved the music, especially the clip with the heavy guitar sounds. That song has stuck in my mind as one of the most awesome DOS soundtracks I can ever remember.

I remember the manual wasn't very helpful aside from learning the controls, so I had to figure out the strategy on my own. However, with some practice, I got pretty good. It's been a while, but I remember some things:

Ship vs. Phantom interface. The ship interface is a lot of fun, admittedly, and adds a decent method of defense early on. But once you're able to produce some ships, its combat effectiveness diminishes, especially since you'll be spending more time running around to all the planets than fighting. Aside from that, your ship can get destroyed and takes a while to be rebuilt. The Phantom mode, however, lets you move between planets quickly and give orders effectively.

Protect your trade ships! Send a few patrols between planets that have traders going between them. Otherwise, your precious cargo will be lost. On the flipside, make sure you stage raids against enemy trade lines to distrupt their economy

Defensive sattelites are extremely useful, but it's a good idea to also have some patrols or your planets might be in trouble

It can be a bit frustrating on the first missions to wait for the economy and minerals to pick up, but believe me, in later maps, you will want all the time you can get! So take the time to learn the quirks of the game in the first maps.

This game seems simple at first, but even back when I first played it, I could tell that they wanted to add more features. It was among the first real-time strategy games, so keep that in mind while playing! I hope my little tips helped
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Old 15-10-2007, 10:52 PM   #23
hi it is nick

hey i remember playing this game when i was like 10... i cant seem to figure out how dosbox works.. can anyone help me with this? i would really like to play this game again but without dos i cant
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Old 15-10-2007, 10:57 PM   #24
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Old 22-05-2009, 08:06 AM   #25
Default how to download?

I cannot figure out where to download this game. Can someone post the link or explain how?
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Old 22-05-2009, 10:21 AM   #26
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Old 06-06-2009, 10:50 PM   #27

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My dad picked this game up for us kids when we were pretty young. It was one of the first computer games I remember playing, and maybe the best. We were young enough that it took us forever to figure out how to do things in the game, especially since this genre was not something we saw in console games.

I still play Star Reach every now and again, and think of it as one of my favorite video games, if not my favorite. Long hours spent in front of the old computer, sharing the keyboard with a friend during a 2 player game

Screen looking became a problem

Some aspects of the game seem unfinished, but from reading the above post by David Foote, one of the designers, it makes sense with the amount of constraints they had. It's cool to see a developer post on here, especially about a game I didn't think anyone else knew about. Reading about the development of Star Reach made my day. The music turned out great

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Old 29-07-2009, 09:07 PM   #28

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one of the best odler RTS games evah ;D, i was about 8 or 9 whene first playing this game, spent 10 years loking for it and found it on hotu, it is must try for any1 who lowes RTS
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Old 18-08-2009, 02:57 PM   #29

Star Reach was indeed a great game that died because of underexposure... One day i hope to re-make it with improved graphics, online multiplayer support, better gameplay in terms of controlling your ships etc... It'll be so epic.
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Old 21-08-2009, 03:56 AM   #30

You know what really sucks? The fact that the head developer basically said 'good on you' for making old, near-forgotten games available... and some other guys who are barely or not even related to its creation (*cough*Titus*cough*) are probably the ones who gave the 'NO GO' demand...

Ah well... Can't blame Abandonia for following the law, regardless. I have access to the disks regardless.
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