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Sol Trader
Platforms: PC, Mac
Languages: English
Players: Single-player
Aug 31, 2012 @ 7:05am
Feb 13 @ 2:54pm
Recent Announcements View All (10)
The human side of Sol Trader
How face generation works

Customised faces have been on my list for a long time, and I'm really pleasd with how they turned out. Here’s a preview of some of the different faces that can be generated:

Read the full post[] for more about how the code works under the hood.

The dialogue system

When deciding how to support dialogue, I researched all the different ways that these systems are normally done in video games: I wanted to ensure that our system is as flexible and as immersive as possible.

I’ve gone for a hybrid of all the methods I discovered: read more about the dialogue system here[].

Tone of voice

I’ve also been working on adding tone of voice to the system. This adds a lot of nuance to the dialogue system. It allows for some interesting and thematic interactions, like the one above!

Read about how tone of voice works[]

Development update: hiring and launching ships

I've moved over to using a full entity-component system for the game, which has massively increased the flexibility of the design. This allows me to prototype new ideas very quickly.

Borrowing money and hiring ships have gone in this week: now all that remains is to add the ship launching code and space mode back into the game! I have some cool ideas for how that's going to look and feel, which I'll be sharing soon.

That's it for now. Until next time!


Patreon, Proxemics, realism vs fun, face generation, AI conversations...
By popular request: support me via Patreon!

Many Kickstarter backers have repeatedly requested a Patreon page so they can support Sol Trader's development and the live streams I run every Monday 2pm on Twitch. Your requests have been answered: the page is now live!

My Patreon page[]

How to choose between realism and fun in game design

Realism sounds like the holy grail of game development, and it’s very enticing to us developers. Ultimately however it can pull us away from what’s fun to play.

Finding the fun is hard work. Fun in games is something that has to be worked for. It doesn’t appear without effort. Our raw materials are art assets, sound files and code: we grind them together searching for the fun in the midst of the three. The formula is elusive and uncertain, and it can take hours of effort, but eventually our game will catch light and burn bright, almost like magic.

Read the rest of the article[]

Proxemics for game relationships

This week I completely replaced all the relationships code to make it more manageable and more fun. It's based on the social psychology concept of Proxemics.

Read on for a comparison of the old relationship system and the new one, and why the new code is better and more fun for the player.

Read the full article[]

Sneak preview of new face generation code and character UI

Looks like your relationship with your father has cooled of late...

Here's a quick gif of the new character sidebar with a test of the generated faces in Sol Trader. The purple relationships are those the character is closest too, blue are personal friends and green are social connections. It only shows locations if you have that information to hand, or you're particularly close to them.

What do you think?

Development update: AI conversations

I'm entering a critical game design phase where I'm starting to work on AI conversations. The interaction between you and other characters in the game is a core game mechanic, used to conduct most of your business whilst landed at planets. Therefore it must feel great to the player.

I have some ideas for a simple mini-game to make chatting to characters fun and engaging. Next time around I'll be able to share more about how the design process went.

Until next time,


Release date: Late 2015
Sol Trader is an exciting new game for PC and Mac. It aims to combine the immersiveness of Elite and the arcade fun of Asteroids with the depth of an RPG.

It features a complex procedural history generator. Each new game is already two centuries old, with a living history full of characters that are born, live and die before you even exist.

When you create a character in this world, you face the same choices as all the computer-controlled citizens did. The decisions you make in your character's early life set your starting skills and attributes, and your family connections and business contacts.

There is no set story. The game generates two centuries of characters, events and interactions to set the scene: as a player, you are born into this world and form relationships in it before the game starts.

You'll then be able to create your own legend within this world: explore the known (and unknown) solar system, trade goods, run missions, leverage your contacts, and avenge members of your family as you see fit.

When playing the finished game, you might find yourself:

  • Speeding through a dangerous asteroid belt to avoid pirates
  • Collecting samples from a far planet for a scientific mission
  • Meeting the President of Earth's Old Federation
  • Painting your ship the colours of your pirate band
  • Blackmailing an official for valuable information
  • Becoming a double agent for two different governments
  • Trawling the city markets for the best deals by day
  • Hitting the bars at night to network with important contacts
  • Getting a friend to repair your ship for a discount
  • Outfitting your ship with extra powerful engines to escape pursuers
  • Mining asteroids for rare metals with specially equipped lasers
  • Collecting satellite and ship debris for a paltry fee
  • Running out of fuel and calling a rescue ship
  • Avenging the death of a family member
  • Gaining lucrative missions from the senate due to your father's political connections

    Find out more at
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chrismdp  [author] Jun 20 @ 7:07am 
@buzzard thanks! :)
buzzard Jun 17 @ 2:49am 
Looks awesome. Found it through reddit. Keep up the good work.
chrismdp  [author] Feb 2 @ 9:38am 
@Ash: Ah nice. Thanks for the tip.
AlphaAsh Jan 31 @ 2:08pm has a thread going on this, so I checked it out. Looks very promising. Backed on Kickstarter.
chrismdp  [author] Jan 30 @ 9:30am 
@The_spiffing_brit: sure thing - email me your Youtube URL to chris [at] soltrader [dot] net and we'll go from there :)
Kehama Jan 26 @ 6:32am 
After listening to the developers interview on Space Game Junkie I'm interested to see where this goes. I love the idea of characters with a real background rather than another amnesiac or cryo-frozen hero.
The_Spiffing_Brit Jan 25 @ 5:52am 
I am interested on doing a review of this game for youtube is it in a state where it can be reviewed. I am able to edit out bugs and over issues, I am really intrested to see what this game will become
Nitron Kalver Jan 21 @ 5:50pm 
Can I join the Syndicate and blow up NanoTasen—eh, I mean... Old Alliance Space Sations?

Oh, have a "yes" vote by the way.

Be sure to give a Mr. Ben Porter your thanks for sending me here! :D
chrismdp  [author] Jan 18 @ 1:35pm 
1. Skill levels but no tree right now.
2. It's total: Your attributes, wealth and status originally come from your parents, and your childhood makes a big difference to your attributes and choices. Your parents attributes come from their parents, etc.
3. Not *quite* - careful balancing between fun and playability here. Not final.
amaranth Jan 17 @ 11:34pm 
Just, 1: Is there a skills tree (going to be)
2: How much does the 200 year history affect character development and in what ways (the part I'm looking forward to the most :P)
3: newtonian flight model? (Like EV Nova)