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Ad Astra   -----

Developer:
Platform:
Windows
Date Added:
Mar 05 2006 05:14 AM
Updated:
Mar 02 2010 06:05 AM
 

Ad Astra is an open-ended Space Exploration game inspired by games such as Elite or Privateer. Features : 110,000+ Real Stars - Fractal Planets - Procedural Flora and Fauna - Lots of Weapons - Lots of Spacecraft


Attached Image: image586.jpg Attached Image: image774.jpg Attached Image: image775.jpg Attached Image: image776.jpg

Ad Astra is an open-ended Space Exploration game inspired by games such as Elite or Privateer.

As is tradition with these sort of games the player starts with a rubbish ship and some cash ( about Ł10,000). The Ship can be upgraded by docking at Space Stations or Landing at a city. Extra money can be earned through trade, bounty hunting or crime.

The game includes a comprehensive manual which describes the controls, music installation and playing tips.

To install simply unzip into the desired location on your PC's hard drive. The application can be executed by double clicking the AdAstra application file.

To Add music simply place 'midi' files into the 'midi' directory and enter the Music Config screen. Refer to Manual for a full description.

More information can be found at www.a-astra.com

ENHANCEMENTS ( Version 1.3a)
----------------------------
New GUI
Configurable Keyboard Mappings
Improved Solar System and Galactic Map screens
Global Spacecraft speed multiplier configurable via preferences screen
Improved Suns
Larger Planets ( approx 1.5 times larger)
Modified Galactic Star Systems
Sound Effect Volume Controls
Improved alignment of detail textures on fractal planets
Middle Mouse button allows rotation is System and Galactic Maps.

BUG FIXES
---------
Save Game Screen Shot works for larger resolutions
Generation of Cluster1 debris fixed
Fixed Auto Pilot malfunction when using mouse wheel throttle

SAVE GAMES
----------
Partially compatible with previous revisions - the 'Jump' button should be used instead of the 'Load' option.

User defined Spacecraft templates will not be compatible with the new revision.
ESC - Access to System Menu
H - Access to limited Help

Refer to the 'Input' section of the manual for details of mouse and joystick control ( mouse control is highly recommended).

Refer to the 'Appendix' of the manual for keyboard controls.

Refer to the 'Appendix' of the manual for playing tips.

Or alternatively use the following links :
www.a-astra.com/guide/options/Input.htm
www.a-astra.com/guide/controls/main_controls.htm
www.a-astra.com/guide/playing_tips.htm
Minimum System Requirements
AMD 1900+ Processor or Intel equivalent
ATI 9600 64M Graphics Card or Similar
256M RAM
DirectX 7

For more info refer to Appendix D of Manual or www.a-astra.com/Demo.htm

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52 Comments

Mar 13 2006 05:45 PM
This is really great, probably one of the most complete projects I have seen here. It's easy to see the hard work behind it. I don't know exactly how much time has been spend on that, but it's defenitivly worth it. We want more games like this !
Mar 15 2006 04:12 AM
Thanks for the positive feedback. The game took exactly 2 years to write and I would estimate that I averaged about 2 hours per day on it. There is a full chronology of the development on the Website together with details of how to access the design screens.

It may also be worth stressing that roughly the first 30 downloads of the game used some incorrect planetary textures. Basically I had a great deal of difficulty uploading the original 40MB file and ended up cutting it down to 30MB. Unfortunately I deleted the wrong planetary textures and consequently the colours used by the fractals may look odd. If the oceans change to a deep blue when the fractal forms then you may have one of these initial defective versions. The Barren planets will probably be the most severely affected as their detail maps are based on a life-supporting planet. If the file 'planet_life512.bmp' appears in the 'textures/planets' directory then the version is probably defective. I fixed the problem on Sunday afternoon and the current version seems to be Ok.
Mar 15 2006 06:15 AM
This game looks awesome.
The sound effects of the engine are tiresome and boring. I have the PC connected to the HI-FI with subwoofer and it felt like I was right there in the engine room next to the plasma generator, not in the control room.
The ship direction control method using the mouse is not my favourite, and needs some getting used to.
The menus and HUD text is way too small.
Voice feedback on system status would lessen the solitude in the void of space.
This game requires you to read the manual, which I am going to do right now.

What is the difference between the demo and the full version please?

[Edited by - sdebo on March 15, 2006 12:15:49 PM]
Mar 15 2006 10:04 AM
The game crashes when i try to start it. The file error_fl.txt:

Quote:


START ERROR

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/video.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/input.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/window.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/user.sav

FUNCTION : di_init_joystick
Failed to Create DirectInput Joystick 80040154


Im using Windows XP. I dont have a joystick, is that required?

A real pity that i cannot play this game... the screenshots all look awesome.
Mar 16 2006 01:30 AM
Reply to Sdebo:

Engine Sound Effect : I agree that if you possess a decent sound system ( I only have puny speakers) then the engine sound effects will become irritating. I'll add a volume control under the preferences menu so that you can turn them down for the next version that I release. At some stage I'll probably add a full set of configuration options for all the sound effects and not just the engine noise.

Ship control method : The game supports four different types of control. Two flavours of mouse control plus two types of joystick control. The default method is the one, which I personally feel, is best but I admit that it takes some getting used to. With regard to joysticks I've always found that these are relatively clumsy in space games and I have never liked them. I'm open to suggestions for any other control method that might work better.

HUD and menus : The size of the text and menus obviously depends on the screen resolution. I run the game at 1280x1024 and have few problems. However with the advent of TFT monitors then I accept that turning the resolution down can seriously affect the quality of the graphics. I'll have a look at making the Text Size configurable but as this will affect the layout of every menu then it will be a very time consuming activity and consequently will have to be a low priority task.

Difference between demo and full version : The demo does not allow travel to another star system. If you open a wormhole then you'll be thrown back into the default system. Currently there isn't a full version as the game isn't finished yet - the following is a summary of the features that still need to be added :-

1. Partition Galaxy into zones
2. Add alien civilization ( they won't be friendly)
3. Add a decent set of missions
4. Asteroid mining ( mainly for purpose of adding more cannon fodder)
5. Improved texturing of Gas giants and atmospheres
6. More spacecraft, Weapons and Equipment
7. Improvements to tactical screen ( better control of turrets and ship)
8. Solar system editor
9. Skill levels for computer controlled ships


Mar 16 2006 05:26 AM
Reply to : Cannonicus

The game doesn't require a joystick and I personally feel that mouse control is better. I believe that the application has found a device that looks like a joystick but isn't. I've had a quick scan through the code and I think that I may have identified why the application crashed out.

It looks as though you may have some form of device connected to your joystick port. Alternatively you may have some form of USB device that indicates that it is force feedback but isn't a joystick. If you disconnect this item then the game may execute successfully.

If you still have problems then send me your contact address by Emailing to support@a-astra.com. I'll return a patch, which might fix the problem. In addition it will include better exception handling during initialisation which should allow me to identify where the problem lies if it still persists.

Mar 18 2006 03:06 AM
I read the manual and learnt to configure the game.
The problem with text size was that the game defaulted to the highest possible resolution. I reduced it to 1024*768 and it looks fine now.
I also got used to using the default mouse navigation.

The primary feature which seems to lack is interaction with NPCs. The total lack of voice from bases, other ships and aliens sort of reduces it to a shoot'em up game, but a very good one at that.

Excellent work overall, please keep up the goodwork.

[Edited by - sdebo on March 23, 2006 4:06:18 AM]
Mar 19 2006 12:43 PM
I'm also crashing (and getting the same error) when trying to run the game -- I have an AMD64 3000+ with a GeForce 6600GT and 1GB of RAM.

Quote:
START ERROR

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/video.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/input.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/window.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/user.sav

FUNCTION : di_init_joystick
Failed to Create DirectInput Joystick 80040154


I don't think I have any joysticks plugged into the machine, nor do I currently have any USB devices attached -- just a PS/2 mouse and keyboard. It does the same thing if I attach a Logitech Wingman Rumblepad.
Mar 20 2006 01:10 AM
Reply to Sdebo

Thanks for the feedback.

I chose to default the game to the optimal resolution mainly because TFT monitors are becoming ever more widespread. Unlike CRTs, graphical quality is severely degraded if anything other than their native resolution is used.

Providing voice feedback will not be easy, as I don't have access to anybody with any acting skills. I feel that I would need someone with a trained voice, as the results tend to sound hopelessly flat if this is not the case.

Over the next few months I intend to add far more content into the game with regard to interaction with various organisations and NPCs. In its present form it represents a framework, which I can develop a more detailed game around.

Mar 20 2006 11:48 AM
Reply to Ravuya and Cannonicus

After about 40 attempts I've finally succeeded in uploading a Version 1.0c to the Showcase ( I keep getting a aspSmartUpload error 800a0009).

I've attempted to simulate the problems that you've both described but have had little success. The code has been tightened up a bit in the suspect area and this may fix the problem. However I suspect that the reason that the game is crashing out may not be caused by the reported DirectInput error as the game has been designed to be tolerant of such issues.

I've also added better exception handling and if the application still falls over then some extra debug information should be found in the 'trace_log.txt' and the 'diag_file.txt'. I'll need the tail end of at least one of these files to investigate further.
Mar 21 2006 02:50 PM
When it crashes, neither of those files are created. The error log now says

Quote:

START ERROR

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/video.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/input.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/window.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/user.sav

FUNCTION : di_init_joystick
No Joysticks founds
Mar 22 2006 12:27 PM
Reply to Ravuya:

Thanks for being so patient.

I'm mystified why no trace or diagnostic logs were generated as I forced several crashes to prove that the exception handling would work as desired.

However I believe that the problem may lie with your monitor. If you're using a CRT then it may generate a huge number of resolution options. Whilst the application protects itself against overflow in this area, there is a separate diagnostic log for the video settings which is not so resilient. I've increased the size of this log and added thresholds in order to circumvent an imminent overload.

If the game still crashes then I've also added a 'debug' file in the 'user' directory. You should edit this as described in the 'readme' file held in the top level directory. This will force a trace log to be generated as the application executes and from this information I should be able to locate the source of the problem.
Mar 22 2006 06:05 PM
I've got no problem with waiting to play this game, it looks like a lot of fun and I want to support you.

I am indeed using a CRT -- but I think it only goes up to about 1280x1024. I'll take a look at it later tomorrow -- I'm out and about right now and away from a Windows machine unfortunately.

Thanks for trying to hunt down my bug. [grin]
/ Guest
Mar 28 2006 10:26 AM
How long will it be until you can warp to another system? It would be awesome if you could make a patch that would allow warping to at least 2 other systems near by. Other than that it looks like a great game!
Mar 29 2006 05:57 PM
Running the latest version of the app makes my monitor's sync go out of range.
Mar 29 2006 11:53 PM
Reply to Anon

Thanks for the positive feedback.

The game currently does support warping to another System - I've just inhibited for the current version of the Demo.

Mar 30 2006 12:18 AM
Reply to Ravuya,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'makes my monitor's sync go out of range'.

I suspect that you are referring to the resolution being too high to be displayed correctly. If this is so then it makes a great deal of sense based on the previous problems.

When I enumerate the supported resolutions normally this should take into account what the monitor can support. Unfortunately it looks as though the DirectX call is just returning everything that the graphics card is capable of and this was probably exhausting the diagnostic buffer that I referred to in my previous post.

If this is the case then you can simply fix the problem by changing the resolution in the Video options screen if the game actually executes. You can find this via the 'esc' key.

Alternatively you can force a more suitable default by moving one of the default video files held in the 'defaults' directory into the 'user' directory and then changing its name to 'video.sav'. For example to default to a resolution of 1024x768x32 perform the following operations :

1. Copy 'video1024x768x32.sav' held in 'users/defaults' into 'users'
2. Rename copied file to 'video.sav'

More info can be found in the 'readme' file held in the top level directory



Mar 30 2006 03:27 AM
Did that, now it works! Thanks a lot. I'm having quite a bit of fun flying around. [grin]

I should've read the readme file first.

It seems that DirectX expects me to be able to produce a 2586 x 1785 resolution or something along those lines, because that's what appears in the in-game resolution selection box. I told it to default to 800x600x32 and now everything is perfect.
/ Guest
Mar 30 2006 08:38 AM
I am afraid that the control methods are for me the game's achilles heel. I just got frustrated and zapped the demo. :(

I would recommend you include the option for people to be able to use the keyboard too - perhaps a combination of keyboard and mouse until we find something comfortable for ourselves?

Otherwise, as mentioned previously, the UI font is perhaps a little small and the default resolution should be lower - at least for the demo - so as to not need to read the manual to get it to run on most TFTs.

Beyond all that it did appear promising and you can definitely see the effort you've put in.
May 09 2006 01:06 AM
to solve the text and window size problem you could do what I did. have a scale factor for all 2D overlay objects such as your gui system. the scale factor will be based on the screen resolution. that way if someone has a widescreen laptop or a very high resolution your gui (and therefore your text) will take up the same amount of space on the screen no matter what resolution it runs at. ie look the same size.

just a thought.
Quote:
Original post by chapmast
Reply to Sdebo:

Engine Sound Effect : I agree that if you possess a decent sound system ( I only have puny speakers) then the engine sound effects will become irritating. I'll add a volume control under the preferences menu so that you can turn them down for the next version that I release. At some stage I'll probably add a full set of configuration options for all the sound effects and not just the engine noise.

Ship control method : The game supports four different types of control. Two flavours of mouse control plus two types of joystick control. The default method is the one, which I personally feel, is best but I admit that it takes some getting used to. With regard to joysticks I've always found that these are relatively clumsy in space games and I have never liked them. I'm open to suggestions for any other control method that might work better.

HUD and menus : The size of the text and menus obviously depends on the screen resolution. I run the game at 1280x1024 and have few problems. However with the advent of TFT monitors then I accept that turning the resolution down can seriously affect the quality of the graphics. I'll have a look at making the Text Size configurable but as this will affect the layout of every menu then it will be a very time consuming activity and consequently will have to be a low priority task.

Difference between demo and full version : The demo does not allow travel to another star system. If you open a wormhole then you'll be thrown back into the default system. Currently there isn't a full version as the game isn't finished yet - the following is a summary of the features that still need to be added :-

1. Partition Galaxy into zones
2. Add alien civilization ( they won't be friendly)
3. Add a decent set of missions
4. Asteroid mining ( mainly for purpose of adding more cannon fodder)
5. Improved texturing of Gas giants and atmospheres
6. More spacecraft, Weapons and Equipment
7. Improvements to tactical screen ( better control of turrets and ship)
8. Solar system editor
9. Skill levels for computer controlled ships


May 09 2006 09:08 AM
I sooo want to try this game! I ran it the first two times with no success, nothing except the HUD renders. I can hear the sounds though.

Looking at the error_fl.txt I see this:
Quote:

START ERROR

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/video.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/input.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/window.sav

FUNCTION : ut_load_file
Unable to open File user/user.sav

FUNCTION : di_init_joystick
No Joysticks founds

FUNCTION : game_init
Failed to set Palette

FUNCTION : mx_load_music_fx
Unable to open Music File

FUNCTION : rn_render_poly_primitive
Failed to Draw Index Primitive : 8876017c

FUNCTION : rn_render_poly_primitive
Failed to Draw Index Primitive : 8876017c

*and repeated for a bunch of other renders such as rnsh_render_vapour_trails, for about 8mb worth of txt*


So I tried the "swap the file trick" you explained here and in the readme.txt. Which helped a bit. I could see a logo on the loading screen now and saw some stars while coming out of hyperspace (at least I think that it was that?) then it slowed down and kinda took a dive - both the plane and the game. CRASH!

I've got a AMD Athlon XP 2400+ with 512Mb RAM, and a old ATI 7200 series gfxcard.
May 10 2006 01:16 AM
Reply to donjonson

Thanks for the suggestion.

Unfortunately because the user interface has been implemented the old fashioned way by writing directly into the back buffer then the use of a scaling factor would probably require a complete rewrite of this part of the application.

All the potential options for solving this problem would require me to devote a significant amount of time which is a resource that I have very little of. Because I work long hours in the telecommunications industry I have to be pragmatic with respect to which parts of the game I should focus my attention on. Since the font size can be dealt with by simply adjusting the resolution then I have to view the issue as being low priority.

I may get time later in the year to revisit this area and will bear your suggestion in mind though.
May 10 2006 01:24 AM
Reply to Seriema,

The first parts of the error log can be ignored. When the game boots it looks for saved option files and if it cannot find any then it simply uses defaults.

The error code generated by the rendering functions indicates that the application has run out of video memory. The game's minimum requirements are for a 64Mbyte graphics card and if yours possesses less memory than this then it explains its dismal execution.

However if you send an Email to support@a-astra.com then I can return you some other option files, which will cut down the amount of video memory required and may allow it to execute.

The rest of your PC should be fine – in fact it looks better than my own.

May 10 2006 12:09 PM
Some info on my card :)
Quote:

Graphics Card Manufacturer Built by ATI
Graphics Chipset RADEON 7200 SERIES
Device ID 5144
Vendor 1002

Subsystem ID 001A
Subsystem Vendor ID 1002

Bus Type AGP
Current Bus Setting AGP Off

BIOS Version 001.001.000.053
BIOS Part Number 113-70705-100
BIOS Date 2000/07/17

Memory Size 64 MB
Memory Type DDR SGRAM / SDRAM

Core Clock in MHz 164 MHz
Memory Clock in MHz 164 MHz

Primary Display Yes


I'll take you up on that offer though! *sends an e-mail*
Dec 01 2006 07:49 AM
I love this game. It's one of the best space games I've ever seen, no joke. I love the essence of realism, even in a game based in the future. Commerce, Piracy, Bounty Hunting, and Salvage. Excellent choices. Out of these 4 ways to make money, I like salvage the best. The only thing about that is in the beginning, your ship is so small that salvage targets are rare, and usually aren't incapacitated enough to be salvaged. You should add enhanced tractor beams right next to enhanced short range scanners to aid salvagists like me in their quest for $$$. I don't like the fact that you can be so easily caught off guard by pirates, but if you really are going to add a difficulty setting, it's a minor complaint. So, except the difficuly, and a little boost to salvage, it's perfect.

Wait, one more thing!

#10 on your list should be: ADD A MAIN MENU.

(with "new", "load", "editor", oh, and maybe some cheats...)