Recently I went on a kick of playing older games in my library. One of my favorite space sims was Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. Released in 1997 by Interplay Entertainment, Starfleet Academy put me in the uniform of a cadet working through many diplomatic and combat scenarios in a simulator. Imagine the opening scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn where Saavik and crew attempted to rescue the Kobayashi Maru. Between simulator missions, FMV video sequences were used as choose-your-own-adventure interludes where I got to interact and help my crew mates, work with Chekov and Kirk, and even uncover a conspiracy at the Academy. Learning about the story’s different branches took at least two playthroughs. There was even an option to reprogram the Kobayashi Maru scenario and win.
Playing Starfleet Academy in 2022 from the original CDs isn’t easy. The game was written for Direct3D 3.0, a graphics API that doesn’t work on Windows 7, 8, 10, or 11. A software renderer version of the game is included on the disc, but it limits the resolution to 640×480 in exclusive fullscreen mode. And don’t forget, the game initially shipped on five discs due to the amount of FMV included. Most computers no longer come with disc drives or options to install them.
Is it possible to play Starfleet Academy on a modern Windows computer? Yes. The CD issue is the easiest to work around since the game is available for digital purchase from Steam and GOG.com. Or the original discs can be used with a USB disc drive. Make sure the drive letter for the disc drive doesn’t change. During installation, the game configures itself to always look for the same drive letter. Regaining 3D support in the game is simple by using dgVoodoo 2. This graphics wrapper takes all API calls for old versions of Direct3D or Glide versions and maps them to DirectX11. dgVoodoo2 also adds customization options like forcing higher resolutions and enabling eveantialiasing. Check out the info I added at PCGameWiki for how to set up Starfleet Academy with dgVoodoo 2.
- Download the latest version of dgVoodoo 2 and extract the archive.
- Open the
MS\x86folder and copy
DDraw.dllfiles to the installation directory of sfad3d.exe. DO NOT copy D3D9.dll to the folder. Doing so will cause errors when launching the app.
- Paste the files into the game installation folder where the game executable is.
- Run the included
dgVoodooCplprogram and configure the following settings.
- Fullscreen or Windowed
- Videocard: ATI Radeon 8500 (best results – no corrupted nebulas)
- Filtering: Desired anisotropic filtering
- Resolution: Desired output resolution
Note: Widescreen resolutions cause the game to appear stretched.
- Antialiasing: Desired AA level
- Fast video memory access: Checked (the game has z-buffer issues unless this is enabled)
- Save the dgVoodoo config file to the installation directory of sfad3d.exe.
- Launch sfad3d.exe instead of sfa.exe. The latter uses software rendering.