<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/planets2.jpg”>Do you remember those cool space exploration games from the 1990’s like Sentinel Worlds and Wing Commander? These were games that you could play for hours on end, without any set script and without anything that you had to do except whatever you wanted. You could jump through galaxies, explore distant planets, or earn money by shipping cargo or becoming a bounty hunter. The virtual universe was all yours.
Well, an open source game called Vega Strike lets you experience those space adventures all over again. The moment you install and run this game, you’ll find yourself staring at your first cargo ship – the start of your interstellar career. From this moment forward, the game is all yours, and whatever you want it to be.
Here at MUO, we love anything to do with outer space, such as my article on ExoExplorer, or John’s list of cool astronomy websites. So, let’s take a look at the sort of things you can do in the Vega Strike universe.
Installing & Controlling Vega Strike
Unlike most other 3D virtual worlds like this that are graphic intensive, installation is very easy and the game isn’t at all very laggy. The reason for that may be the fact that even though much of the graphics are pretty impressive and larger-than-life, there are very few areas with animation. If you do have any issues, reduce some of the settings in the program configuration.
Also make sure to check out the included PDF players guide before you get started. The ship has controls like auto-pilot, speed settings, targeting and navigation, docking, communications and a lot more. The player’s guide outlines it all in this 72 page document.
When the game finally launches, you’ll find yourself at the main menu where you can load a past game, play a new campaign, or enter into multiplayer mode where you can join up with any of the hosted Vega Strike servers your friends may be running (or run your own!)
Once you get started, you’ll find yourself in the hanger of a trading station. That ship in front of you is your first cargo ship, and one that you’ll be starting your adventures with. Navigating through the game is just a matter of moving the mouse over glowing dots that represent the exits.
If you go to the main concourse just outside the hangers, you’ll see terminals where you can find work and missions to earn money. Don’t forget to go to the shipyard and spend some of your starting credits on a few jump drives and some other upgrades to your ship.
The computers at each trade center that you visit as you travel through this virtual world features a wide range of missions and jobs. You’ll never run out of things to do. Click the mission and you’ll see how much you can earn if you complete it. Once you choose and save a mission, it gets loaded to your ship computers and you’re ready to roll.
Go back to the hangar, launch your ship and you’re off. The flight controls is where you’ll spend most of your time in this game, so spend time getting use to all of the controls. As you can see here, the mission instructions are at the upper left (use pg-up or pg-dn to scroll). Ship or planetary targets (N or T) that you’ve selected are displayed at the lower right corner of the screen. If you select a target you want to travel to quickly, click A (autopilot) and your ship will take care of the rest.
Changes views (1 through 9) to view out your ship at all angles, or get a view from outside your ship. Here I am headed toward my first jump-point.
Once you’ve got the target selected and in autopilot, just enjoy the ride until you get to the jump point. When you arrive, Tab controls your thrusters so you can navigate into the point until you’re close enough. Then press J to make the jump. This is how you travel from galaxy to galaxy through this massive (and very beautiful) universe.
Once you arrive at other locations across the universe, such as other trade centers or planets – any place you can dock will feature green squares when you press “d”. You can request permission to dock by pressing zero. Once you dock, you’ll find yourself inside the facility and ready to explore. Visit the bar, search for new missions, or visit the trade center to pick up or sell goods.
While the game is nowhere near the level of commercially available space shooter games, that really isn’t the point of Vega Strike. This game is all about space exploration and creating your own experience by choosing missions that suit your tastes. If you just want to transport cargo back and forth across space – enjoying the view and building a shipping empire, that’s your choice. If you like danger and want to escort transports and fend off enemy ships – have at it. You’re in complete control of your own space adventures, and your own destiny.
So give Vega Strike a try and let us know what you think. Do you know of any other space exploration games? Share your own resources in the comments section below.
Image credit: Nino Satria