This post over at Dungeons & Digressions reminded me that I wanted to look into an old text computer game I used to play quite a bit called Star Merchant. The BASIC program was available in a 1981 issue of Creative Computing magazine.
My uncle typed it in to a big honking Texas Instruments computer and we had hours and hours of entertainment. Basically, you travel from starport to starport, buying and selling cargo in hopes of making a profit.
I haven’t looked at the code in 30 years, but it sure appears to be a nearly straight rip of the Trade and Speculation rules from classic Traveller. A few cargoes have been replaced, otherwise it looks and acts pretty much the same.
The speculation rules are one of the “mini games” within Traveller that, like the character creation rules, made that system so enjoyable.
You can download a Windows version of the computer game here and try it out if interested. It works just like I remember it, though the crew does seem a little easier to please. I seem to recall that most games ended when the crew went on strike continuously. As in, it was a constant stream of strikes and you could not do anything else. I also do not remember hull damage in the version we played back in the day, but I just might be forgetting.
The key is your first two or three cargoes. If you don’t get good options, you’re pretty much out of luck. If you can do well in your first couple of jumps, you should be able to keep going for quite a while.