Friday, June 12, 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.