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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What *IS* StarLock, and what other game(s) are similar?
StarLock is a Massively Multiplayer RPG. It's a browser-based web game. It's an adventure game. It's Interactive Fiction on a very large scale. It's an illustrated MUD. It's a virtual environment where players interact. It's an epic sci-fi story in the "space opera" genre. The game also incorporates a variety of puzzle and mini-game features to its RPG/Adventure gameplay. StarLock is very unique.

To understand what StarLock is, you have to know what it is not. This isn't a space strategy game. This isn't a kingdom management game. This isn't a "pet" game or a "pimp" game or a "war" game or a "trading" game. Those kinds of games have definitely proven popular. They have huge followings, but generally standardized gameplay. StarLock emmerses you in the game world to an extent not yet seen in browser-based gaming.

StarLock was designed from the ground up, without the benefit (or perhaps the crutch) of borrowing from an existing model. Many of the concepts will be familiar to long-time gamers, but you'll be hard-pressed to think of another game like it!

Perhaps most importantly, StarLock isn't open-ended. While that's a big appeal to many gamers, it's difficult to tell a story that has no end. As each of the five chapters are added, players will come closer to the ultimate goal.

Q: When will StarLock be open for public play?
This has been such a hard-to-pin-down moving target, that any answer tends to become the wrong answer. However, a decision was made to develop StarLock in five "chapters" in order to open the game and its storyline in stages. The first chapter is very very close to completion. A very tentative and optimistic schedule could see the game opened for public play in the Spring or Summer of 2004.

Q: What works have inspired StarLock?
StarLock has been inspired by many sources. Among them are the Dennis Hopper movie "Space Truckers," the stories and novels of Jack Vance (The Dying Earth, The Demon Princes, Planet of Adventure, etc), Dan Simmons' "Hyperion" and "Endymion" duologies, Stephen Lawhead's "Empyrion" duology, "A Fire Upon the Deep" by Vernor Vinge, and many others.

Q: What's it about? What's the story?
Some 800 years prior, all the inhabitants of a group of solar systems vanished. At around the same time, a massive energy sphere, maintained by a network of emitters, was constructed to encase these star systems. After remaining uninhabited for centuries, so-called "new" people began to appear, seemingly from nowhere at all - adults and children of all ages, lacking any memories but possessing various and almost intuitive skills. With instinctive talents that included the operation of centuries-old technology left behind by the former inhabitants, a Galactic Council for Order (GCO) was formed to bring order to this chaos. Over a span of 150 years, this GCO became not only an organization to aid these isolated Emergence sites, but a governing body throughout all regions and solar systems in the "StarLock" energy sphere.

These new "citizens" have pondered many questions for many decades. Who were those original inhabitants? What happened to them? Did they leave, or were they taken, or were they victims of mass-extinction? If the latter, what explains the consistent erasure of data memory in the legacy technology they left behind? Did they construct the StarLock emitters? Why does the StarLock prevent all travel beyond? Was it meant to serve as protection from some outside force, or is it a prison for those inside? Is there no way to destroy or disable the emitters? Are "new" people the result of spontaneous creation, and if so, which religious sect has it right? Why has the emergence of "new people" become so uncommon in the past century, and why was it so common before? Does anything even exist beyond the StarLock?

With the aid and organization of the GCO, the many different races who now inhabit the planets and moons and outposts form a wide community, sharing a common economy. The GCO manages resources, keeps the peace, assigns jobs, and generally forms a common bond between the many small communities throughout the underpopulated solar systems. Without a GCO, these communities would likely fail by themselves, or else fall victim to a lawless galaxy. With the assistance and guidance of the GCO, much more is possible.

As a citizen, you have petitioned the GCO for a change in career. You have longed to travel the stars (within the confines of the StarLock, of course), and as a restaurant manager, that has never been possible. As a tugger, delivering contract cargo wherever the job requires, that can finally change.

What begins as a new career, driven by an almost instinctive urge to travel, will become an adventure that ultimately solves these unanswered mysteries. Along the way, you will become a hero both respected and despised. You will help those in need, saving the galaxy along the way. You will even discover who you are, and why you are uniquely qualified to do what must be done. You will make friends... and enemies. You will meet others with a desire to save the galaxy... and some who are determined to destroy it. You will live an epic, and it will change you forever.

Q: Can I play StarLock for free?
Yes, definitely! You can maintain a character in StarLock and play at no charge, using the lump of free time you get for signing up, and more free time each day. This is a Tier-1 account. Although we're confident you're going to enjoy the game, you are not required to pay unless you want to become a more active player. Membership Tiers are explained in much greater detail later in this FAQ.

Q: What are the 3 Membership Levels?
The idea is that the people playing the game most should be the ones who contribute membership fees. This model makes sense, and best of all, it's fair not only to us, but to you as well.

1) FREE: Each member, simply by signing up to play, will receive 10 hours of free play time. In addition, whenever your free time drops below 3 hours, 20 additional free minutes will be added each day. Tier-1 is ideal for players who devote less than two and a half hours each week playing StarLock. Although this totally-free gameplay can only continue as long as the game continues to make money from Tiers 2 and 3, we believe its success will keep the Tier-1 option viable indefinitely.

2) HOURLY: In addition to the free time given to players of all three tiers, extra hourly time may be purchased. This option is perfect for people who feel they don't play enough to justify a subscription (Tier-3), but want to play more than they would be able with free time alone (Tier-1). Free time gets used first. In other words, "Paid" time takes effect only when free time is up. This supplemental hourly time is only $0.16 (25 hours for only $4), which is far cheaper than those games which charge $0.01 each minute! If you have ever subscribed to an online game, you know that the time you've purchased expires, whether you use it or not. With Tier-2, your time isn't lost when you don't play! Your paid hours remain, even if you don't play for several months.

3) SUBSCRIPTION: For people who want to spend so much time in the game world that hourly time would become too expensive, subscriptions will be available. These will be $8 per month or $45 for 6 months. Although the amount of "turns" in the game may limit the progress players can make each day (to keep things fair for players of all membership tiers), there won't be a limit to how long a player can hang out inside the game each day. Like Tier-1 and Tier-2, as a Tier-3 Subscriber you will also receive 20 minutes free each day (up to 3 hours total). Although this doesn't matter during a subscription (daily time is unlimited), that free time will be available to use immediately if your subscription expires (a great safety net for avid players).

Q: But, which Tier is right for ME?
Because you start out as a Tier-1 member with a lump of free time to start, you can evaluate the game and your own play habits. Simply consider how much time you wish to spend in StarLock each month.

10 Hours Or Less - Tier-1: Think of it this way -- 20 minutes free each day means 10 hours free each month. Unlike most MMORPGs, StarLock does limit your turns. This not only helps to keep things balanced for players of all tiers, but it allows busy people to participate without demanding all your spare time! If you are active in other games, have a busy life already, or are simply a casual gamer who wants to enjoy StarLock when your schedule permits, Tier-1 is perfect.

60 Hours Or Less - Tier-2: This is a great benchmark. 60 hours each month averages 2 hours of play time every day. Here's how it works. You will receive 20 minutes free each day (10 hours each month). Add to this $8 in extra paid hours (50 hours), and there you have it. Also remember that Tier-2 time isn't lost! If you play (for instance) one hour each day, your time actually stretches out for two months! Because these extra hours can be purchased in 25-hour packs ($4), this really keeps your investment to a minimum.

More Than 60 Hours - Tier-3: Your $8 can also buy a 1-month subscription. If you average more than 2 hours each day in StarLock, this becomes a better deal for you. For $8 each month, you can really take advantage of all the social aspects of StarLock, avoid clock-watching, and become a regular!

Q: Will "Paying" Members have an advantage?
Yes - otherwise, why pay? However, this does not imply major differences in abilities and options, nor does it mean a class rift between paying and non-paying members. The major advantage is more time in-game, but with the same opportunities and turns available to free (Tier-1) players. Paying members may also be able to enter restricted areas, but as a general rule, members of all three tiers have the same opportunites and abilities.

Q: Is there a benefit to playing StarLock AND Lunatix?
Most likely, yes. This could take one of two forms. The first possibility is that the Lunatix Online subscription policies will change so that subscriptions and free/hourly time is shared for both. The second possiblity is that the Lunatix policies won't change where free/hourly time is concerned (to allow Lunatix-only members to continue at $5 per month), but a single $8 subscription would cover both games. Check back later for more details.

Q: Is this an action game? Real-time rendering?
No. This is completely browser-based (not to be confused with the generic term "web-based," which would include Java, Shockwave, etc). The scenes in StarLock are illustrations - not real-time action-oriented graphics like Everquest or Doom. The scenes will give you a sense of where you are, but they're pre-rendered. You're not moving around in real-time through them. Still, compare this to every other browser game in existence. Most are completely text-based, and if graphics are presented, they're often only in key spots or as tiny icons.

Q: What's required to play? Do I download the game?
You'll need a modern Netscape or Internet Explorer web browser (4.0 or newer should work). A fast machine may help display times, but isn't necessarily required. A fast internet connection isn't required but is HIGHLY recommended to improve your overall play experience. As a browser game, you will be able to play without downloading anything. This works even better than Java or Shockwave games, which download themselves (at the expense of frequently long delays in starting up each time) to your computer when you play. It's possible (but not decided) that part of the game (graphics, in particular) may be available on CD for faster play, where the "web" versions are highly compressed with low detail to save bandwidth. Still, you'd be playing from our site, not from the CD like a stand-alone game.

Q: Can I work for Prowler Productions, and help out?
Later, we may offer incentives or make requests for help in coming up with ideas for "quests" or new places to visit. At this time, development is handled entirely by Prowler Productions.