Thursday, June 11, 2015

Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy -> Hints, tips, shortcut keys

Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy was the first game I ever worked on in the games industry.  I joined Bluetongue Software (later Bluetongue Entertainment) in Melbourne Australia in 2000, and I was testing what we called STTA during development.

Last night, I caught up with an old friend from Bluetongue, and we got talking about the old games we'd worked on.  After he left, I dug out STTA, and fired it up.  It still plays fine on my modern quad-core Windows 7 machine, after installing the Starship Troopers 1.1 Nvidia Patch, which was nice!  It even supported 1920 x 1080 resolution (even though no such resolution existed when the game was released).

But I found I'd forgotten some crucial hotkey shortcuts, making even the first level of the game very challenging!

The player needs to destroy a bunch of bug holes, and to do so, you need to switch to your Artillery Weapons and Fire those artillery weapons!  But I couldn't find any way to do those actions through the normal onscreen GUI!  I remember this being a bit of a problem when we released the game.  And the manual didn't even have a list of hotkeys!

So I dug up the old hotkey page I made in 2000.  Here it is for your delectation.

Grab the full Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy Hotkeys list here!

A few special tips and notes below...

Crucial hotkeys

W - Toggle Weapon on selected troopers
F - Fire Artillery  (then click on target to fire there)
H - Heal / Repair  (Medic / Engineer)
S - Stop  (stops all troopers from doing whatever they're doing)

Selecting Troopers

I also like to be able to save custom selections for groups of troopers.  Just use CTRL and Click to select some troopers, then hold ALT and press a number key to save that selection set.  Then you can just press that number any time while playing, to select those troopers again.  (By default, "1" is row 1, and "2" is row 2, etc).  

"~" is also very handy, as it selects ALL troopers.

You can also tap SPACEBAR to shift the camera between different groups of troopers, which can be handy if faster soldiers run off ahead of slower soldiers.

Trooper Attitudes

Also, crucial, are the Z, X, C, V keys which change the "attitude" of selected soldiers (Berzerker, Aggressive, Controlled, Stealth).  It changes the way they respond to nearby enemies, how they respond to move commands, and how visible they are to the enemy. 

"Z" makes troopers berzerker, meaning they'll run off an attack nearby bugs (which can make them "disobedient" and not follow move commands very ceremoniously, but it does make them effective at killing nearby bugs without having to issue specific orders.

"V" makes your soldiers stealth (and slow), helping to get past enemies undetected.

Equipping Units

Equipping units can be confusing.  You can add the special item to troopers to let them carry a second weapon, which can be very useful, so troopers can carry a missile launcher and a laser gun, for example.  You can then toggle between those weapons as needed during play.

Tac Map

F10 cycles through the TacMap modes (full, small, off).  I'd recommend just making it the largest size.  You can also click on the map directly to issue move orders, which can be very handy.


  1. Do you know how to get this game running for windows 10? The Nvidia patch fixes the menu issues, but the game will fail when attempting to load a mission.

  2. Hi Leon, unfortunately I haven't had any experience trying to get it running on Windows 10. I would have thought (hoped) that it would work fine.

    Perhaps you should try running the game from a different directory. Perhaps the pathname is too long, or there's too many spaces in the path, etc.

    Trying putting STTA into the root of your C:/ for example, and see if it works there. Or in C:/Games. Would be keen to know how you go.

    All the best!

    - Murray

    1. Thank you for your response Murray, I will attempt this and report back.

      Kind regards,
      - Leon

  3. Hey that's awesome, that's my first STTA Support email in about 16 years! :)

    1. Unfortunately I am still unable to play. When attempting to load a level I will get the 'Starship troopers terran ascendancy has stopped working' notification from windows.

      I wanted to ask, when I apply the patches, I notice that the D3D.dll file will overwrite the previous one, so for example if I add the full patch, then Nvidia patch will overwrite it. If I apply the Nvidia patch first, then the full patch will overwrite the nvidia patch and I can't navigate the main menu again.

      Am I applying the patches incorrectly?

      Thank you again for your assistance.
      - Leon

    2. Do you have a way to perhaps test it on a friend's computer, running Windows 7, or Windows XP? :) That might be a good way to see if the game is working as expected on those systems. And then, if it does, you'll know that you can try the same process on your Windows 10 machine, and narrow down the variables of the problem.

      This was the old support email I used to send out to people, about applying the patches...

      Try installing the 1.1 patch first.

      Then the NVidia patch after that if you are using a NVidia card.

      To install the patches, first make sure you have WinZip installed ( Then you just Right-Click on a patch, and select "Extract to..." from the drop down menu that appears.

      Then browse to your \stta folder, and press OK. By default, this will be found at
      C:\Program Files\Microprose\Starship Troopers\stta. It will sometimes ask you whether you want to over-write some files. Always select "Yes".

      If that still doesn't work, you may wish to try a fresh install of the game, and try applying the patches again, in case it was something that went wrong during the patch application.


    3. I just installed it again myself, on my Windows 7 computer, and I just ran version 1.0 (the default install) and it works fine. I have an AMD graphics card, though.

    4. Hey Murray,

      I believe my GTX980M is responsible for this fault, despite the Nvidia patch it is not enough. I have no idea where to begin trying to figure this out so I'm throwing in the towel. Thank you so much for your support thought. I guess the Bugs won this time.

      Kind regards,

    5. This is one of my all time favorite games. I've been trying to play it for years now. Could never get it to work on Windwos7... It works great on Windwos 10.

      - Install the game.
      - Unpack the 1.1 patch, copy the files from it, to the main game directory... the fonts too. I just overwrote the folder.
      - Run the game in WindowsXP Service Pack 3 mode, with admin rights.
      - It will ask for CD to be in a DVD drive. I have the original so I do that. Buy you can also use DemionToolLight and mount an ISO.

      I'm running Win 10 64x and Radeon HD 7950 with latest drivers. Game run in 1080x192 perfectly... although I'd like the menus to be a bit bigger, butwhatchagonnado? I'm very happy!

      I wanted to play this game for years. Few weeks ago I installed windows ME on my virtual server so I could install the game. I found the CD but before I did that, decided to try one more time. Works!

    6. Awesome to hear you got it working again! :)

      I was playing again recently, and found some pretty frustrating things about the game! I wish we could go back and change them. Like, walking for miles and miles and miles, then having to defend that fort against all those crazy bugs... man, that's hard! And if you have to do it again, you have to walk all that way again, and it's pretty boring! :)

      But overall, I'm proud that this was the first game I worked on!


    7. I have no idea how you achieved that Sebastian.
      I do the following:
      - Install the game.
      - Unpack the 1.1 patch, copy the files from it, to the main game directory... the fonts too. I just overwrote the folder.
      - Run the game in WindowsXP Service Pack 3 mode, with admin rights.
      - Game has graphical problems. black bars above and below the menu screen can't click on anything.
      - Install the Starship troopers Nvidia Patch
      - Game works! Menu Works! Briefing and squad selection works!
      - When I try to start the mission - Crash to desktop

      It would appear to me that the Radeon cards don't have this issue. and the Nvidia fix (which worked at the time) doesn't work with current Nvidia cards.. that's the only logical conclusion I can come up with.

      I need to find someone who knows about Nvidia issues with older games and what the work-around must be, this is so frustrating!

    8. I think you are right. The last time I ran it, I was running it on a Radeon card, and it did work (on Windows 7, I think).

      I'm now on Windows 10, using a Nvidia 970, and I can't get it to work.

  4. Hi,

    great game! Playing it again after several years but i have one question to it...while playing i was wondering if it would be possible to re-work some or all models which are in the game but honestly i have no idea where the in-game models are stored... any idea? :)

    1. Hi Tomas, I'm not too sure. I seem to remember that maybe the models got "kinda zipped up" into a proprietary "Toshi" format (the name of our engine at the time).

      I can't remember whether people tries to mod the game, or anything. So, sorry, I don't really have any useful info!

      I did a quick search online, and I don't think anyone has really had any luck modding this game, except perhaps hacking some save game files to let you have stronger units or something.

      It was kind of a shame we packaged it all up so well! It would be nice if people could have messed with it a bit more over the years. :)

    2. Hi Murray,

      thank you for your reply. Its really a nice feeling to "speak" with someone who was developing the game!

      I did a large research through google before i asked :) with the same findings as you which is quite sad. The game and the universe is great, it deserves some enhancement but due to the lack of any modding possibilities its impossible unfortunately.

      Anyway, thank you again for your reply and best wishes from Slovakia :) Tomas

    3. My pleasure!

      I was playing it recently, and I got up to the mission where you have to capture a bug specimen, then go to that military base which then gets attacked by tons and tons of bugs!

      It's so frustrating, because for so long, basically nothing happens (you just run around for ages), then you die at the base, and have to do it all again.

      Bad game design! :) Although, it certainly does raise the tension!

  5. Hey Murray

    Got around wanting to play SSTA again, Got the patches and it loads fine. Using windows 7, Only issue i have that can't seem to fix is the text.

    In the settings menu aswell as in the unit selection, The text that shows stats ect don't appear.

    Any ideas?

  6. I think that it works best with an AMD graphics card, and not a Nvidia one.

    Are you using a Nvidia card?

    I'm not too sure how to get it working with Nvidia card.

    If anyone out there knows a good way to do it, please share here! :)

    1. Yea, I'm using Nvidia.

      If no one knows how to fix it, Then it is fine. After all it doesn't ruin the game.

      It is more of a personnel annoyance than anything else, But thank you for at least getting back to me Murray.

      SSTA is still a fantastic game despite the minor flaws of trying to get it to work haha. But it is worth it, Studying Game development myself i do want to make a SST game or a re-make of a existing one.

      But of course there is legal matters which are daunting.

  7. It'd be great if someone DID know how to play it with proper text rendering with a Nvidia card. Seems to be a common problem, which is a shame.

    I was playing through it a few months back, and the long, boring level, with lots of walking, and then the massive base-defense bit at the end was where I had to stop. It was so hard to get past it, and then waste such a long time just getting to the base to try again!

    Shame to have such a difficult level have such a long, boring lead-up.

    Also, I find the controls/process for catching a bug specimen to be super confusing.

    They are my biggest gripes with the game! :)

    But yes, I was enjoying it apart from that!! :D

    1. It's a great game Murray, the long walks I find add some realism to the fact that the Mobile Infantry had to really 'hump' from point to point after their deployment, makes them feel all the more vulnerable too.

      I still cant get the damn game to run so when I have some spare cash I am going to pick up any old laptop with a HD Radeon of some kind and jump right back in to the war! Have you played the First Person Shooter Starship troopers? that's a lot of fun too.

    2. Hiya Ginsu Moose,

      Yeah, a Radeon card seems to work better. Hope you can get it working! Great to hear some people enjoyed it enough to go to such lengths. :)

      I never played the FPS game of Starship Troopers, it looked pretty cool! I should check it out one day!!

      - Murray

  8. Having the same Nvidia problems for now but I played the hell out of this game growing up. One of my favourites which I hope to stream and show people soon thanks for the wonderful memories from this game good sir.

    If the mission you're talking about is Whiskey Outpost the easiest way I find to do it is once you reach the base ignore the Colonel for abit and just line everyone up along the wall and man the turrets. Camera facing the gate you want soldiers focused on the far left corner, the right side of the front gate and 2 guys at the back just to deal with that spare bughole, then you can move them up front with the others. Doing that I've never had a breach in the wall and you get some nice XP for getting the colonel out, hope that helps!

    Got alot of fun memories I wanna relive again hunting down every last possible bug, also heard that you can mod the files in game too to increase the craziness so I'll be sure to do that if I can get it running. Thanks again for being part of this game man.

    1. Just an update but I finally managed to get it working a week after the above post. For some reason this time the Nvidia patch just worked. I don't know what I did different outside of the usual recommendations. But the Full and Nvidia patches do work flawlessly... Eventually. One thing I like about some of these old games is pushing the numbers of bugs too. It really changes things up when a bughole can throw out 50 bugs, although your nuke gunners tend to level up like crazy. I'll try and find more answers anyway to see if I maybe ticked something different. I've tried like 15 years to get it working? And it just finally decided to. Don't know what to say beyond that. Good luck troopers!

    2. That's awesome to hear! Great to know it can be done.


    3. Great... OK I will try to get it working once again.


  9. My pleasure!

    And thanks for the good tips of winning that level. I'll have to try it again some time with your advice on hand! :D

  10. I picked up a second hand HP laptop, the game runs fine. Finally after a couple of years I can play again!

    You probably already know this, but with notepad you can edit the amounts of bugs and even types of bugs in each mission, I now have dozens of bugs swarming my platoon, its great.

    Thank you for trying to help me prior, hope more people enjoy this classic.