Fun with UQM-Debug

In every release of The Ur-Quan Masters, there is another executable file called uqm-debug, used for debugging the game and used for testing the game functionality itself.  I haven’t used it extensively but I do remember a time when someone told me about a debug key.

There is a key that can be mapped to have the player’s ship instantly upgraded, cargo filled and ships added.  The main purpose isn’t for cheating through the campaign.  It is for traversing through specific areas and testing code updates and modifications without limitations from the game itself.

I remember a few years ago when 0.5.0 was the latest version, I discovered a mod that allows players to view the spinning ship videos that were in the original 3DO version of Star Control II. The original UQM builds do not support these ship spin videos due to additional legal issues.  This modification allows a key to be designated as the info button which plays a video of the ship in the Super Melee and Shipyard screens.  The mod even allowed the Crystal Dynamics promo to be played at the menu.

It was around this time I discovered the debug key.  All I had to do was press a key and my ship would be instantly upgraded with a full crew complement and cargo.  The escape pod isn’t instantly added and is given to the player at the beginning of the game anyways.

The captain’s ship has numerous upgrades and includes cargo such as the Talking Pet and Utwig Bomb.  It has powerful blasters but no point defense laser.

I did have some fun cheating through the beginning of the game.  I left space and was attacked by various Slylandro.  I blasted each of them effortlessly.  I even took on the Thraddash and the Ur-Quan and Kohr-Ah surrounding the Sa-Matra.  Unfortunately, it was surrounded by infinite Ur-Quan.  Since I didn’t have the escape pod first time around, I was stuck at this point.  I still had to free the Chmmr, enhance the bomb and tell the Talking Pet to get rid of most of the Ur-Quan and Kohr-Ah surrounding the Sa-Matra.

Another perk from the debug key is that any star selected in the starmap on Auto-Pilot, the flagship instantly teleport to that location.

This is a good place to mention that the starmap is searchable; in the starmap, press the / key, and type the first few letters of the star name; it will try to find a match and tab can be pressed to scroll through different names with the same starting letters.  It’s an amazing convenience to remember the names and not the numbers.  Unfortunately, I discovered this fact after I finished the game; I used to write down coordinates and refer to the UQM Wiki frequently.

So, how can this debug key be enabled?  Here’s what I did, thanks to the advice from the UQM forums.  Keep in mind that this is geared towards the Windows version of UQM.

  1. Go to and download the latest content update.  Do not extract the file!  Simply place the zip file in the content/packages directory where UQM is installed.
  2. Download the latest Windows release binary.  Extract uqm.exe to the installation directory and overwrite the original uqm.exe.
  3. Download the latest Windows debug binary.  Extract uqm-debug.exe to the installation directory and overwrite the original uqm-debug.exe.
  4. Create a file called override.cfg in the config directory containing the line: debug.1 = STRING:key F4. On my Windows XP laptop, it was located in C:\Documents and Settings\anthony\Application Data\uqm.  It should be the same directory as keys.cfg
  5. Launch uqm-debug.exe and either start a new game or load a saved game.  Press F4 and the ship will be instantly upgraded.

So, that’s some info about what can be done with uqm-debugging.  I wouldn’t recommend using it to play through the entire campaign; there’s a lot to experience and the game has a great design with great dialog to experience.  It’s better to consult a walkthrough to know more about what to do next in the game; it helped me progress through the game more smoothly and I still experienced the entire adventure without feeling too confused.

I’d like to thank everyone on the UQM forums and everyone else who helped me out with getting the debug key working.

I wonder what else UQM-Debug can do…

UQM Forum: Debug Key in UQM
UQM Subversion Snapshots

(Comments have been disabled for this article)