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Frequently Asked Questions

About the Game

What is Pioneer?

Pioneer is a freeform single player space adventure in the spirit of Frontier: Elite II.

Is this a game or a simulation?

Frontier was a game, but with a newtonian flight model and a slightly more scientific flavour to the universe than usually in space games. Pioneer will follow this same path.

Can I play online?

There will be no multiplayer. This does not rule out the possibility of minor network features, but multiplayer as it is commonly known is not compatible with the core mechanics of Pioneer. See for instance Network features, and ServerAgent for more, or our dev-forum here

Can I colonize planets, build space stations or conquer the universe?

No, these are out of the game scope. While the game universe might not stay static for the duration of a game, the player can not generally influence major events.

Can I walk around space stations and planets?

No, you cannot exit your ship. The ship is always your avatar.

Is the universe pre-defined or randomly generated?

There are millions of stars in the galaxy. A few hundred on them are based on real-world astronomic catalogues. some of the planets (obvious ones being in the Sol system) are pre-defined, but most things are procedurally generated. This means that a planet does not exist until you actually visit it, but it will be generated the same way for every player.

Can I hire crew for my ship?

Yes. You can hire crew. But they don't do very much at the moment.

Are savegames compatible between releases?

While the game is still in alpha, this cannot be guaranteed. The situation will stabilize in a few years.

Are savegames compatible between Mods?

Again as with savegames between alpha versions, compatability between mods can not be guaranteed. It all depends on what mods you have installed.

Where is star system X from Frontier? Can I buy ship Y?

Although Pioneer started out as a clone of Frontier, it no longer is, thus references to the Frontier universe have been removed, and we aim at making Pioneer far better than Frontier. Thus, you will have to figure out new trade routes! But don't worry, Newtonian physics will remain, as well as single player.


How do I take screenshots?

Ctrl+Printscreen saves .png files in the same directory where the game .ini and savegames are. You can cycle through full HUD/HUD without labels and cursor/No HUD and cockpit using TAB as described in [1].

How do I find star X in the star map

First it is important to note that just like in real life, names are not unique. The star map allows the player to search for either name or coordinates of a system. The search is done in the local region of the currently selected system.

Thus a standard way of finding a system is to type in the name in the search field in the lower right corner of the star map. If you know the system is within a few ly from your position, then have your current location selected when you do the search, since it only does a "local" seach in space. If the search fails, go to the sector where the star is supposed to be, either by typing the coordinates into the search field, or by using arrows, mark a nearby star in that system, and do another search. You can scroll the star map super fast by holding in the Shift key.

I have a Taxi mission to system X, but which starport?

For Taxi missions any starport will do, as long as you dock before the deadline.

Starsystem names are not unique

This is not a bug, space is big, and just here on Earth it is quite common with cities and villages sharing the same name, sometimes quite close.

I picked up a mission to a starport in a system, but when I search for the system, it seems that it doesn't have the destination starport, or even uninhabited.

As mentioned above, there could be multiple systems with the same name. Each mission states the coordinates (Sirius (1,0,-1) for example) of the destination system, and you can enter them into the search field on the sector map, to find the correct system.

I end up "a big number" AU away from the star when I hyper jump to a system

This happens in binary star systems. You can select the star you want to jump to from the System View.

Technical FAQ

How/where do I report my bug/crash

Bug reporting is the most important part where you as a player can help the community. When you encounter something that seems strange or odd in the game, please report it, preferably to our issue tracker, but you can also stop by the IRC channel.

When having problems with graphics, or pioneer not starting/crashing, please attach the files output.txt and opengl.txt from the pioneer config folder in your home folder / My Documents folder. If you didn't get the output.txt file, then make sure RedirectStdio=1 in config.ini.

It is important to include as much of the following information as possible in each issue report, much of this is available to use from the output.txt and opengl.txt but if you cannot attach them then please tell us:

  • The version of pioneer you are trying to run (build date or ingame version number)
  • What operating system you are running, Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10, Linux (what distribution), OSX.
  • Your computers system specifications - CPU / RAM / Graphics card.
  • Whether you have downloaded it from our site, or if you are building it from the source code.

Where is the configuration file, saved games, screenshots?

  • Windows: My Documents\Pioneer
  • OS X: /Users/your_username/Library/Application Support/Pioneer
  • Linux: /home/your_username/.pioneer

Where is the Mac version?

Pioneer is built for both Windows and Linux on the same machine, thus these are our main releases, and are always in sync with each other. To build a Mac release we actually need access to a Mac machine, which, unfortunately, none of the developers currently have. If you have a Mac which can compile and upload pioneer for us on a regular basis, then please contact us (IRC).


My OpenGL Version is below 3.1, "Pioneer cannot run on your graphics card"

UPDATE: Pioneer dropped 2.1 support in September, 2018. You need to compile a version prior to this, and do:

Open your pioneer configuration file, and set: "RendererName=Opengl 2.1". This should allow pioneer to run, provided your hardware supports OpenGL 2.1, which it should if you were able to run Pioneer up until 2014-11-18 when support was dropped. Note, support for multiple renderers was added 2017-03-03, i.e. both OpenGL 2.1 and 3.1; however, you need to edit your configuration file to select the proper one, as no auto-detection is done. Actually, if your hardware isn't extraordinarily old, OpenGL 3.1 should be supported if you update your drivers.

You can also find older versions (pre 20141119 on moddb.

Where do I find older versions of Pioneer

You can find older versions starting from December 2014 (2014-12-05) on our sourceforge page. 2014-11-18 was the last version supporting OpenGL 2, between 2014-11-19 to 2014-12-07 Pioneer required OpenGL 3.2. From 2014-12-08 only OpenGL 3.1 is required. Over at moddb they have windows version going further back in time.

I'm getting graphical issues

Such as wrong textures, ships missing from the view, text display glitches. Updating the display drivers usually solve these problems.

These usually occur on older graphics adapters, or because of outdated GPU drivers. Not too old NVidia and ATI cards are usually enough to play the game, but integrated GPUs are usually not enough.

I'm getting graphical issues, such as snow-like sky and transparent terrain

This is probably caused by the eclipse shader which isn't supported by some open source graphic drivers. You could install the propritary drivers, if available, or disable the eclipse effect by adding DisableEclipse=1 to your pioneer configuration file (config.ini).

I see blank untextured Gas Giants and I'm using an ATI graphic card under GNU/Linux with open source drivers (Mesa R600)

With chipsets using the R600 gallium drivers the shader fails to compile. There is a workaround that uses less noise octaves. This produces less detailed texture maps for the gas/ice giants but they still look good and at least the program runs.

Try setting AMD_MESA_HACKS=1 in ~/.pioneer/config.ini or disable GPU jobs entirely by setting EnableGpujobs=0

I'm getting text rendering artefacts

Some system monitoring HUD utilities, like MSI Afterburner, and Steam overlay can cause distorted text rendering. Try switching them off. 

The game freezes at the intro screen

If you cannot start the game at all, edit the configuration file and change value DisableShaders to 1.

The game crashes on start with an error message about imgui_draw.cpp

Check if any parent folder of Pioneer has any accented letters (e.g éáűúóü etc.). If so, copy the game to somewhere, where there's none of these in the folder tree.

The game crashes after the loading screen. I'm using ATI free drivers on GNU/Linux.

If you are getting a GL_INVALID_ENUM in console, could be because some ships uses textures in a format that, because of patents, is not included in the main mesa package. Search for libtxc-dxtn or libtxc_dxtn in your distribution and install it.

The game hangs when I turn on the Enable Cockpit (EXPERIMENTAL) option

It's because it's an experimental feature right now, infrastructure mostly. You need a cockpit model for to be able to use it.

You can find one heavily WIP one posted on the Community Forums. Note that it's a highly experimental feature right no, so please treat it accordingly.

My joystick is "drifting"

The game has a deadzone setting, but it is only accessible through the configuration file. Open config.ini and raise the JoystickDeadzone value.

I'm getting poor performance

The heaviest part of the game is planetary terrain generation. Turn down the "Detail distance" and "Fractal detail" settings, they have the most impact for performance. Reducing screen resolution is also recommended, this can be done in the Settings Menu, or manualy to a custom values by editing your personal configuration file, on linux: ~/.pioneer/config.ini. On Windows: Documents/pioneer/config.ini Look for ScrHeight and ScrWidth entries.

I've enabled anti-aliasing in the config file, but it does not work

Make sure the AA settings are not overridden by your graphics card settings, on NVidia AA should be set to "application controlled" mode.


Full screen mode is incorrectly scaled

If you are on Windows, try:

Sounds like windows 7 desktop-scaling issues.
Try adding some compatability modes to the Pioneer.exe.
Right click it and Choose properties -> Compatability -> Tick
Disable desktop scaling, and Disable desktop composition.


How much development is being made?

Development is sporadic, but no month goes by without some change to the source, fixing bugs, cleaning up code, introducing new content and/or features; see Changelog.txt. All contributors work on pioneer for free when they have time.

What's the deal with the inconsistent UI interface?

Pioneer started transitioning to a "NewUI" defined in easy-to-change Lua files (#2589, merged in 2013), that do not require recompilation, thus ideal for users to play around with, extend and ideally contribute any improvements back into the project.

The NewUI screens are the nice "blue" frames, such as Options/Settings, BBS, ShipMarket, Commodity market, Lobby, ShipInfo, etc. The migration to NewUI has stalled somewhat, and the SectorView (F2), communications/autopilot (F4), and others are still defined in the old hard coded C++ source code.

Due to lack of time, and coders, transition has stalled for now, although SystemInfo is halfway there (#3564).

But since the summer of 2016 work is being done to move Pioneer to a dear-imgui based UI. New HUD is already in master.

Do you accept contributions?

Hell yes! Pioneer is not any one persons personal project. It is the sum of the contributions made by the people who play and care about the continued development of the game. See: How to contribute.