starlanes - the game of starlanes
is a game of interstellar commerce for 1 to 4 players. Players
take two-phase turns: the first phase is movement, the second is trading.
The object of the game is to become as wealthy as possible by trading and
merging companies whilst out-smarting your friends and enemies.
- Print version information
- Force the game to play in color mode
- Force the game to play in mono mode
is written using color ncurses, but will detect a black and
white screen and will modify its output accordingly. On Linux, setting
either on a virtual console or in a
window works well.
After the initial player determination screen, you will be presented with the
screen. This screen is split into three individual
windows: the map window
, the company window
, and the general
The map window
shows the terrain of the universe. The legend is:
- Black hole
- Infant company
- Empty space
- Company A (Altair Starways)
The companies are Altair Starways
, Beetlejuice Ltd.
, Denebola Shippers
, and Eridani Expediters
the map, the companies are represented by the first letter of their name.
The company window
shows information concerning the currently existing
companies, including the company name, its price per share, and the current
The general info window
will prompt the user for input if the player is
waiting to move or trade, but will also display special announcements as they
come up. During a player's turn, that player's name is displayed in the title
bar of the window, along with his cash holdings.
Also, mention should be made of two other windows: the player standings
and the company detail window
(not to be confused with the
company info window
The player standings window
can be brought up during the player's move by
pressing the 's
' key. This window shows all the player's names, stock
holdings, cash, and total worth, sorted by total worth. It also shows the
number of sectors that remain to be filled by companies before the game ends.
The company detail window
is invoked with the 'c
' key. It shows,
for each active company, its name, price per share, size, and total worth (all
player's shares * price per share). The company size and total worth are
useful in determining the result of a merger
If a screen redraw is necessary, pressing '^L
' at almost any of the
prompts will accomplish that.
Finally, if the players want to quit
before the game before is over,
' or '^C
' and a quit verification window will pop up. If
' is pressed, the final game standings will be displayed, and the
program will end.
During the first phase of a player's turn, the computer will prompt for a move
from a choice of 5. These moves are chosen randomly (for the most part). Upon
making your move, there are several things that might happen. (NOTE: it is
important to remember that two objects on the map are adjacent only
they are orthogonally adjacent. Diagonals don't
If you move into a sector that is completely surrounded by empty space
), that sector will then contain an infant company (+
If you move next to an existing company (A
), that company will
expand into that sector of the map. If the new extension of the company
touches an infant company (+
), that infant company will also be
Given that you're not moving next to an existing company, if you move next to a
) or an infant company (+
), a new company will be formed.
You, as company founder, will receive 5
shares in the company for free.
For calculating how much a company will be worth, see Company Pricing
If you happen to move next to a black hole (@
), one of many things could
happen, depending on the circumstances. See Black Holes
Determining a company's price per share is fairly simple. Generally speaking, a
company is worth $100
for every sector it occupies (as given on the
company info window
under ``Size''), plus $500
for every sector
it occupies which is adjacent to a star (*
), minus $500
every sector it occupies which is adjacent to a black hole (@
). If a
company's price per share drops to 0 or less, the company vanishes (see
, below.) Also note that you will not be able to visually
estimate a company's price per share if that company has undergone a stock
split (see Stock Splits
Immediately after a player's move, he is awarded a cash bonus equal to 5%
of the total worth of his complete holdings. This bonus is awarded even if the
game ends directly following the move (see Game's End
, below.) This is
the cash that the player will then use during the trading phase (see
If any companies exist after a player moves on the map, that player will be
given the chance to buy and sell stock. This is where the game is really
played. One must determine which companies are going to earn the highest
profits in the next round and invest in those companies more heavily than ones
that only have a small chance of turning a profit. (See Strategy
below.) The current player's cash value is printed next to his name in the
general info window
Use the arrow keys to select a company you wish to trade stock in, then press
. You will be asked for an amount to trade. Enter the number of
shares you wish to purchase in this company. (Just press return
or enter ``0
'' if you don't really want to trade with this company.)
Choose a negative amount if you want to sell shares (at 100%
value.) At this point, the user can also press the 'm
' key to purchase
the maximum number of shares possible, or press the 'n
' key to sell all
of his holdings in this company.
Once the player has completed trading, he can press escape
to end his
turn, thereby transferring control to the next player.
When a player chooses a sector of the map that would cause two or more companies
to touch, a merger
First, the companies sizes are checked and the company with the larger size
absorbs the smaller.
If the companies are the same size, the company with the highest total worth
absorbs the smaller. (The user can view company size and company total worth
on the company detail window
, see above.)
Finally, if both company sizes and total worths match, the companies will merge
If a three or four-way merger
occurs, the merges will take place one at a
time, in an order that is somewhat clockwise.
After a merger
, each player will have half the number of shares of held
in the vanquished company added to the number of shares held in the
still-existing company. The value of the still-existing company's price per
share will increase by the vanquished company's price per share.
Additionally, each player receives a cash bonus equal to
10 * stock price * holdings
where stock price
is the old price per share of the vanquished company
and holdings percentage
is the percentage of total stock once owned in
the vanquished company. For example, imagine that Altair Starways
per share) is merged into Denebola Shippers
assume that the player owned 50%
of the total shares in Altair
. Using the formula, that player would receive a bonus of
10 * $500 * 50% = $2,500.
For more hints on how to deal with mergers
, see Strategy
When a company's price per share climbs above $3,000
, a stock
occurs. All player holdings in that company are doubled, and the
price per share is halved. See Strategy
, below, for money making tips
during and after stock splits.
Since black holes
from any company that is in contact
with them, it is possible that the company's price per share will drop to 0 or
less. If this happens, the entire company is sucked out of space and all
player holdings are lost.
If a player attempts to place an infant company (+
) near a black hole
), that infant company will be immediately sucked up, resulting
again in an empty sector.
Likewise, if a player attempts to start a new company that would normally be
worth $500 or less per share next to a black hole
, the sectors that the
new company would have occupied all become empty space (.
For some ways to make black holes
work to your advantage, see
The game ends when 54%
of the map is filled with companies (about
sectors.) The player who made the final move receives his 5%
holdings bonus (see Holding Bonus
, above) and the final standings
window is displayed. The player with the highest total worth is the winner.
In order to maximize your profits, you must wisely invent your cash. For
instance, if a company is near a black hole, it is likely that it will lose
$500 per share in the next few rounds. Likewise, if a company is near a star,
it might soon have a $500 gain.
Also, the larger the company, the greater that chance that it will be added onto
(just because it takes up more room on the map.) If you own 300 shares in a
company, and its value goes up by $100 per share, that's a $30,000 increase in
your net worth.
Another thing to watch for is when companies are about to merge. Remember that
the number of shares you own in the smaller company will be halved before
being added to the bigger one when they merge. This can be used to your
advantage, especially if the smaller company is worth significantly less than
the larger. If the big company is worth $2,000 per share, and the small is
worth $200 per share, you can buy 10 times as many shares in the smaller. When
the companies merge, the number of shares in the smaller company is halved,
but it's still 5 times the amount of stock you could've purchased in the
Don't forget that when two companies merge, the players receive a cash bonus
that depends on the percentage of stock they owned in the smaller company (see
, above.) It is good to try to own a higher percentage than
A way to gain profit earning potential is to have a large number of shares in a
company when the stock splits two-for-one (see Stock Splits
Even though your initial net worth remains the same after a stock split,
you'll now increase your net worth by twice the value you used to whenever the
company's price per share rises. Also, if your opponent has 100 shares and you
have 150 before the split, that'll change to 200 shares and 300 shares,
effectively increasing your lead in shares by 100%.
Black holes weren't present in the original game, but were added to give players
who have fallen behind a chance to shaft the leaders. If your opponent owns
100 shares of Altair Starways and you only own 50, you can extend the company
against a black hole. Your opponent will lose $50,000 from his net worth, but
you'll only lose $25,000.
Finally, a reminder to invest as much money as you possible can each round
(unless it's too risky.) The reason for this is the 5% cash bonus all players
receive each round based on their holdings (see Holdings Bonus
Your cash earns you no interest.
This version of Starlanes
was written and is Copyright (C) by Brian
'' Hall 1995-1997. The author can be reached at
comes with ABSOLUTELY NO
WARRANTY. This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under
certain conditions; read the file COPYING
I'd like to thank the unnamed authors of the original Starlanes for creating
such a thought provoking and fun to play text-based game. I got my first copy
on a First Osborne Group (FOG) disk in what must have been 1982 or so, and
used to spend endless hours playing against my friends. For us, the game is
just as fun as ever. To the original authors, I salute you!
There are no computer controlled players.
Doesn't respond if ^Z is pressed to suspend the game.
If only one person is playing, he or she will frequently make enough money to
break the fixed-field-length windows and/or cause the variable that holds
player cash to overflow. Try to keep your earnings under $2 billion until I
convert these variables to long doubles. :-)